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Information on Specific Disabilities ....

Autism Spectrum Disorders: Common Characteristics

Social interaction and communication …. Let’s talk about this a little. As the Autism guide from the National Institute of Health states, to a child who cannot understand body language, whether the person who says “Come here”, has her arms extended for a hug and is smiling or hands on her hips and is frowning, it all means the same. As the National Mental Health Information Center (http://mentalhealth.samhsa.gov/publications/allpubs/CA-0009/default.asp ), states , “Autism prevents children and adolescents from interacting normally with other people and affects almost every aspect of their social and psychological development.”

Blastland has a son with severe autism. His book, The Only Boy in the World, is highly recommended. On page 83, he describes his son like this,
“The quality that makes other people’s behavior intelligible, the fact that it is done for a reason – imperfect irrational, selfish, self-defeating, nasty, or hasty though reason and action may sometimes be – the fact that what we do is in our own minds at least the servant of some intention, has been substantially washed form his conception of life.  He fully grasps what we intend neither from what we say, nor from what we do.  Let’s be clear, this need not be due to lack of intelligence; it is quite specifically a lack of ability to work out what other people think they are up to.”

Blastland’s son does not have the desire or ability to interact socially with others that seems to be instinctive in most children.

Individuals with autism do not generally pick up on even the most basic social cues – body language, tone of voice, gestures, etc. People with autism are often withdrawn or tend to withdraw when uncomfortable in social situations.

Social skills include a number of skills such as taking turns, sharing and waiting patiently, but the main focus of social skills is communication skills.

Social skills are usually divided into three groups :

Individuals who are on the mild end of the autism spectrum may need to be taught social cues. For example, if you have told your sister you forgot to pick up the mail, but you can get it tomorrow, if she says, “Fine!” in a loud tone of voice while frowning, that does not mean it is fine. It means she is angry.

People who are not socially involved with others miss a lot more than the latest gossip. Through that interaction, we learn what to fear, what to avoid, such as speeding cars. His son, Joe, is different .

“His judgment is based not on human understanding but on past performance or, in other words, a sense of ritual or routine.  Cars do what cars can do, though not for any particular reason.  This is the critical point, cars are only their reputation, without present purpose no one is late, no one has relatives to visit, jobs to go to , places to see; rather, they hurtle around as large lumps of red, blue and white, just as such lumps have always hurtled around in Joe’s experience.  Yes they have people in them, he knows that much, but the people, being machinelike too, follow the rules of all similar machines.  Joe never expected a car to hit him – until one did – and he had no idea that being hit by one would hurt – until it did – and now he is afraid of them.”

This may be why people with Autism are so determined to maintain a routine and have few interests. If you can only know if something is tasty or poisonous if you ate it previously, best to stick with eating the same thing over and over.
Resources to Learn More about Autism arrowhead pointing right