If you haven’t already watched it, I highly recommend watching the TV series ‘Love on the spectrum’. It is a really beautiful show and you will laugh, cry and (hopefully) gain a better insight into the lives of people living with autism spectrum disorder and their families. I wanted to start this blog by talking about this series because sadly, a lot of discussion around autism spectrum disorder (ASD) appears to be quite negative when in fact it shouldn’t be. ASD is an umbrella term rather than a specific condition. Presentations and severity varies from person to person, which is why the word spectrum is so important.
Whilst the features of ASD may vary, however, there tends to be two main areas in which people with ASD may have difficulty. The first is with communication and social interaction. Some children are first investigated for ASD because parents notice an anomaly in their language and/or social development. This may be a delay in speech, but it also may manifest in the way they interact with others. For example, a child with ASD may be more interested in an inanimate object than another person. They may struggle to show or receive affection from others, including their parents. They may struggle to read non-verbal cues, such as body language. Adults with ASD will often find it difficult to interpret sarcasm or insinuation, which can cause difficulties in social settings. The second area is behaviour. Some children with ASD may display aggression, but they almost display other behaviours such as performing repetitive tasks or becoming intensely interested in a single topic.
If parents are worried about their child’s development or have concerns they want to discuss, I would certainly encourage them to talk to a GP. It is really important not to self-diagnose but rather to seek the advice of a paediatrician or specialist psychologist. For more information, check out the Autism Spectrum Australia website – autismspectrum.org.au