Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behavior. It can be diagnosed at any age, but is said to be a developmental disorder because symptoms typically appear in the first two years of life. Individuals on the spectrum have difficultly with social communication and interaction; and display restricted interests and repetitive behaviors. The list below is to provide some examples of the types of behaviors that are seen in those diagnosed with ASD.
Autism gets its name as a spectrum disorder from the wide variation in the type and
severity of symptoms experienced by those with the diagnosis.
Social communication/interaction behaviors may include:
– Making little or inconsistent eye contact
– Tending not to look at or listen to people
– Rarely sharing enjoyment of objects or activities by pointing or showing things to others
– Failing to respond to someone calling their name or to other verbal attempts to gain attention
– Having difficulties with the back and forth of conversation
– Often talking at length about a favorite subject without noticing that others are not interested
– Having facial expressions, movements, and gestures that do not match what is being said
– Having an unusual tone of voice that may sound sing-song or flat and robot-like
– Having trouble understanding another person’s point of view or actions
– Impairment in the use and understanding of body postures (such as facing away from a listener)
– Abnormal social approach (i.e. unusual social initiations like intrusive touching or licking others)
Restrictive/repetitive behaviors may include:
– Repeating words or phrases, a behavior called echolalia
– Pronoun reversal (like using “You” for “I”), referring to self by own name (not using “I”)
– Repetitive vocalizations such as repetitive guttural sounds, unusual squealing, repetitive humming
– Repetitive hand movements (most common: flapping) and abnormalities of posture (toe walking)
– Having a lasting intense interest in certain topics, such as numbers, details, or facts
– Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of objects
– Getting upset by slight changes in a routine
– Being more or less sensitive than others to sensory input (light, noise, clothing, or temperature)
– Compulsions (e.g. insistence on turning in a circle three time before entering a room)
– Inability to understand humor
People with ASD may also experience sleep problems and irritability.
** While individuals on the spectrum may experience many challenges, they can also have
many strengths including: the ability to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time, excelling in math, science music or art; and being strong visual and auditory learners.