Autism (or Autism Spectrum Disorders) is a complex neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way a person views and interacts with the world around him. Persons with autism have difficulties in the areas of social interaction, communication and imagination. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch. The person with ASD might give the impression that he is talking at people, rather than with or to them. He may love a theme, and talk about it a lot. However, there will be much less exchanging of ideas, thoughts, and feelings than there might be in a conversation with a person who does not have autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorders are unique in their pattern of deficits and areas of relative strengths which reflect in how children learn to be social beings, to take care of themselves and to participate in society. The disorder covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. Autistic disorders vary in severity of symptoms, age of onset and presence of various features such as intellectual disability or learning disorders as well as language disorders as are seen in many cases. There is also a vast difference in the manifestation of the disorder across children and over the course of the child’s life. No two persons with autism are the same!
While a child without autism will develop in many areas at a relatively harmonious rate, this may not be the case for a child with autism. His/her cognitive skills may develop fast, while their social and language skills trail behind. On the other hand, his/her language skills may develop rapidly while their motor skills don't. They may not be able to catch a ball as well as the other children, but could have a much larger vocabulary. Nonetheless, the social skills of a person with autism will not develop at the same pace as other people.
Many persons with autism have islets of abilities. These are capacities in which they show outstanding dexterity such as art, music, mathematics, science, good memory for information, excellent knowledge in a specific subject matter and continuous research into it etc.
Autism can also affect a person’s senses;
Sight: Some people with autism may not like bright lights and colours. Other people with autism might like them a lot.
Sound: Some people with autism may not like loud noises. Other people with autism might like certain noises.
Smell: Some people with autism may not like some smells. Other people with autism might like a certain smell.
Touch: Some people with autism may not like being touched. Other people with autism might like being touched.
Taste: Some people with autism may like to eat the same food every day. Other people with autism might like lots of different food.
Proprioceptive and vestibular:These are our internal senses responsible for physical awareness and balance. These are senses that cause persons with autism to have extreme difficulty working with their environment and make it hard for them to control themselves. Minor annoyances to a typical person may as well be full lights and sirens for the autistic. And when that's happening to those internal senses, their world spins into chaos. This explains their need for routines. Ever see an autistic child run in circles or jump off things over and over again? Remember how those receptors affect those feelings of velocity and falling? What if you found those feelings to be highly enjoyable? Since their amplified, they are highly distracting and everyone wants to feel good right? Exactly! Because of the intensity, anything that feels good like that is hard to deny. You may as well consider them addicted to it. That's with any of our external senses as well. When something feels that good, you want to do it over and over again. It's like having a rollercoaster ride in your head and it’s FUN! These senses direct their need for routines and resistance to changes in their environment.
Some famous persons with autism include;
- Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart [Composer]
- Sir Isaac Newton [Physicist]
- Albert Einstein[ Scientist]
- Michelangelo [Artist, Architect, Engineer]
- Temple Grandin [American doctor of animal science and professor at Colorado State University]
- Donna Williams [artist, sculptor, composer and screenwriter]