Understanding Autism

What is Autism?

There is still so much to understand about Autism. No-one yet understands exactly what causes autism. Some things that matter include, genetics (running in the family) and environmental factors (stress or bacterial or viral infections during pregnancy).

Autism explained:

Most researchers and clinicians agree that autism is marked by two key areas where someone might experience difficulties. These are:

1. Difficulty with understanding others (social communication) and

2. Repetitive or restricted behaviour (for example, unique and obsessive interests, routines or sensory interests).

Another way to think about is using a cooking analogy. Let’s pretend that cooking a great meal is kind of like having a good conversation back and forth. Some people will find that they can go to the pantry and take different ingredients and combine them together to make a great meal – it doesn’t feel like it takes a lot of effort, it kind of comes naturally. For most people with autism, instead of finding they can just combine different foods from the pantry, they find it much more natural in knowing a recipe to show them the way. That can be the case for them in a conversation.

It might feel exhausting and be quite difficult for them in ways such as:

  • Determining the intentions of someone

  • Reading their facial expression and working out what they are trying to say

  • Getting the difference between question and statement. For example even a subtle change of tone can indicate a question instead of a statement.

  • Understanding their own emotion and having a language to describe what they feel

  • Expressing what they feel to others with words

  • Abstract concepts might take longer to understand, for example connecting someone’s body language and their change in conversation as a signal they don’t want to speak about a particular topic.

They might find it is easier for them to understand:

  • When information is described visually or demonstrated. Relying on verbal information only might be hard to interpret.

  • Things are explained clearly and sequentially in a logical way

  • They might approach things much more “rationally” and logically. This can tend to mean that might think more rigidly and be less flexible or open to change.

  • Routine or a process in conversation. For example, when someone talks about a particular topic providing a clear context about what they want to discuss and why they want to discuss something.

  • When talking, remember that too much information, particularly verbal or      emotional content spoken quickly can make it difficult for the to process. Often they can at this point escalate when overwhelmed and “meltdown” or deflect/withdraw from the conversation as a way to cope.

How do I talk to my child about Autism?

  • ·Read and think about how you can use The Attributes Activity with your family to help explain how someone in your family might experience autism. http://ahany.org/should-you-explain-the-diagnosis-to-the-child/

  • Explain it is just a “different way of thinking” not being defective.

  • As Temple Grandin explains “if the world was left to you socialites, we would still be in caves talking to each other”

If you have any other questions or would like to know more please contact us at admin@seehearspeak.com.au or on 0416190434. Dr Andrew Wilkinson our Director and Clinical Psychologist can try to assist you in finding assessment/diagnostic or treatment options if you think your child or loved one might have autism.