Autism is a mental condition that is present from early childhood which is characterized by difficulty in forming interpersonal relationships and in using language and other abstract concepts. Autism also refers to Autism Spectrum Disorders.
The Centre for Disease Control describes ASDs as: “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioural challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.”
There is no ‘cure’ for ASD, but a wide range of treatments – including education and behaviour support – can help people with the condition.
In this article, we will be looking at some of the challenges autistic people face.
There are several such challenges and according to the Interactive Autism Network (https://iancommunity.org/) they fall into broad categories such as: aggression and self-injury, social and communication problems, repetitive behaviours and restricted interests, noise sensitivity, sensory issues, mood instability.
In a more personal take on it, the DailyMail UK published an article on a Reddit forum on which autistic people posted a variety of problems they face on a day-to-day basis. Here is an extract: “Sufferer PM_ME_LEGAL_PAPERS admitted they have accidentally offended friends by asking inappropriate questions.
Writing on Reddit, they said: ‘I once asked a girl I know about the hickeys on her neck.’
They added: ‘Later, one of my friends told me that that was… not an appropriate line of questioning. I have no clue.’
They described it as being like ‘you’ve been thrust into a game and no one’s bothered to tell you the rules’.
In a separate post, they admitted it can be difficult to ‘recognise people sometimes’. They have to look to friends for help as a person’s change of hairstyle can confuse them.
In order to fit in with ‘normal’ people, many autism sufferers admitted to mimicking the mannerisms and behaviours of others.
‘It’s not that I lack the social skills other have,’ wrote GryphonGuitar. ‘It’s just that I had to learn them actively, and have to keep them in the conscious part of my head whereas others can do this subconsciously.’
Another distinction between the kinds of challenges faced by autistic people can be made on the basis of age. Autistic children and autistic adults go through different difficulties, but they can be generalized.
Autistic adults and children face two core challenges generally- social interaction and communication difficulties (such as finding it hard to start or keep a conversation going) and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities. They also may face mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety as well as motor (such as gripping a pencil between index finger and thumb) and sensory difficulties (such as sensitivity to light and sound).
The scale may vary however, from children to adults. Autistic children, with the proper care and encouragement, can be fully-functioning and able to socialize as adults. Autistic adults, having had more time to assimilate into society, may find it easier to handle day to day challenges. In both cases however, a strong support network is required.
This is however, just a few broad categories. It is important to remember that autistic people are all different from one another, and therefore the challenges they face will also be different. They could face maybe one or two or more from the aforementioned categories listed above, or none.