Autism & Aspergers

Characteristics of ASD

ASD impacts all areas of a person’s life and how they cope in everyday situations.

Although incredibly variable, some of the challenges that may be experienced by the person with ASD could include:

  • difficulty understanding what you say
  • difficulty with eye contact andother nonverbal body language such as gestures and facial expression
  • difficulty telling you what they want or need
  • difficulty making conversation
  • tendency to take things literally
  • being awkward and ill at ease in a social situation
  • unusual responses to sensory input including intense interest in or intense aversions to certain textures, sounds, movements, tastes or visual patterns or lights;
  • significant learning difficulties
  • outstanding skills in certains areas
  • preoccupation with certain objects, topics, etc.
  • repetitive behaviours (such as hand flapping, body rocking, or finger flicking)
  • always wanting to do certain thngs the same way or to keep things the same

While all people can exhibit someof these characteristics at some point or another, it is the pattern of behaviours, their intensity, and the fact that they persist beyond the typical age that leads to a diagnosis of an ASD.

Strengths related to ASD

Individuals with ASD experience many difficulties throughout their lives, however, it is important to recognise that not all of the traits associated with these disorders are negative ones. There are many strenghts that are inherent to this group of disordes as well, and they are traits to be admired in anyone, even those people without disabilities. There are traits that can be used to the advantage of the individuals who have them, and they will often serve them well in overcoming or compensating for their difficulties.

Individuals with ASD often can:

  • understand concrete concepts very well
  • understand context-specific language (language that can be directly related to an experience)
  • memorise rote material easily and quickly
  • recall visual images and memories easily
  • think in a visual way
  • learn chunks of information quickly
  • learn to decode written language at an early age (called hyperiexia, many kids with ASD can decode earlier than they can comprehend written language)
  • have extraordinary good long-term memory
  • understand and use concrete rules and sequences
  • be perfectionistic in approach to tasks
  • can be very precise and detail-oriented
  • be depended upon to maintain schedules and to be on time
  • have an average or even way above average intelligence
  • be honest, even to a fault
  • be extremely focused, if it is a pleasurable task (and which may be tasks others do NOT want to do)
  • be charming in their innocence
  • have difficulty being devious
  • have a strong sense of integrity
  • have an excellent sense of direction
  • be very compliant, when expectations are clearly understood
  • be very genuine; may not understand the motive behind trying to impress others, and therefore don’t bother.