To help you out understand some of the key factors of mental health problems and the relevant therapies and benefits associated, we have prepared some articles on each individual condition. These articles are based on scientific studies and they are written to facilitate and encourage you to come to face the problems you are seeking…
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that will stay with you for the rest of your life. The nature of a spectrum disorder means that there are a number of different presentations and variations.
ASD can also range from mild to severe.
Autistic individuals experience life in a different way to those who are not Autistic. Fundamentally, ASD affects how we relate and communicate with other people and the way we understand the world around us. Every single Autistic person has their own characteristics and experience of the condition.
There main three areas of impairment in ASD are known as difficulties with social communication, social interaction and social imagination.
1. DIFFICULTY WITH SOCIAL INTERACTION
Communication can often be a difficulty for those with ASD. Non-verbal methods such as using gestures and facial expressions can be difficult to understand. Meanwhile some forms of verbal communication can also be difficult to understand such as the use of sarcasm and differentiations in tone of voice. Some with ASD may also have difficulties with language.
2. DIFFICULTY WITH SOCIAL INTERACTION
Certain social interactions can be difficult for someone with ASD to understand. For example, difficulties can be found in understanding social rules (e.g. giving appropriate personal space), recognising other people’s emotions and expressing one’s own feelings.
3. DIFFICULTY WITH SOCIAL IMAGINATION
ASD can also lead to difficulties in understanding social situations that require imagination. This can involve finding it difficult to understand abstract ideas, predict what might happen next, prepare for change, understand the concept of danger, use imaginative play, and to cope in unfamiliar situations.
Many people with ASD have one or more special interests. These can be varied and can include many things such as dogs, modes of transport, art, stamps, a particular TV programme, computers, dates in history, bus timetables or numbers. In some cases, these special interests may seem obsessive. Having an obsessive focused interest in something specific, may seem unusual, however, it should be noted that this is a usual part of ASD. Very often, individuals will gain enjoyment or comfort in taking such fixed interests. With support, many people can channel their interests into the working world.
Many people with ASD experience differences and sensitivity of their senses. This includes under or over sensitivity of sight, sound, smell, touch and taste. For example, a person with ASD may find bright colours appealing whereas they could also find them overbearing.
In addition to these five senses, two other senses can be affected by ASD. One of these is the sense of balance (the ‘vestibular’ system). Sensitivity in this can mean that someone may be more likely to have accidents or fall over.
The other is the sense of body awareness (‘proprioception’) which is the sense of knowing how to use our bodies and where our bodies are moving. Those without ASD are likely to know how much strength to use to gradually open a door, whereas someone with proprioception sensitivity may not do. This can mean that the individual may seem clumsy or heavy-handed for example.
Someone with ASD may repeat certain routines, conversations and behaviours. Often it can be seen that repetition is associated with a special interest, for example, frequently reading the same book or watching the same film. In addition, repetition can be a way to deal with sensory sensitivity. For example, if someone has a sensory sensitivity to touch, they may find it soothing to touch a certain fabric or tap their feet repetitively. Another example may be if someone has a sight sensitivity, turning torches on and off or flapping the hand may provide adequate stimulation. Repetition is influenced by stress and anxiety. Many individuals with ASD may attempt to cope with stress and anxiety with a repetitive behaviour.
Many people with ASD can also have learning difficulties. This can vary from mild to severe and can affect different areas of life. This can affect the way in which someone learns how to do practical things such as how to clean or cook. It can also mean that someone can struggle academically and may require additional support at school or college. There are a number of other diagnoses associated with ASD. These include Dyslexia, Dyspraxia and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
An autistic savant is someone who exhibits extraordinary skills in a given areas. Approximately 1 in 10 people with ASD are also savant whilst the majority are not. There are a wide range of savant abilities and skills including excellent mathematics, memory, art and music.
there are many approaches, therapies and interventions which can enable the learning and development of an autistic person. For example, behavioural interventions can be effective in reinforcing appropriate behaviours and independence. Examples can include getting dressed, cooking and learning social expectations. Also, behavioural interventions can be effective at discouraging inappropriate behaviours such as aggression.
Many people, including those with ASD can benefit from counselling. This can allow individuals to work through any issues and difficulties in life.
There are further approaches that focus on sensory difficulties and speech problems. All individuals with ASD will present with individual issues and problems. Once an assessment is made, a professional will be able to offer support tailored to the individual. Some people with ASD will be able to function independently and some will require ongoing support with everyday life.