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What is the Autism Spectrum?

The Autism Spectrum is a type of neurodivergence – a difference in how the brain is wired that allows people to view the world from a unique perspective.

 

It is a lifelong, neurodevelopmental condition, in that the behavioural features appear during early childhood and remain throughout life. There is no known cause for Autism, although genetics and the environment play a role. 

 

Autism involves two key areas:

-1- Social communication and interactions, such as:

Differences in communication means autistic people:
(a) may talk passionately about topics of interest, 
(b) may not pick up on nuances in conversation, or
(c) may prefer to not engage in small talk

Differences in nonverbal communication means that autistic people: 

(a) stim or fidget while talking,

(b) look at something else while talking, or

(c) may become bored with conversations

Due to the above differences in communication, autistic people often experience the double empathy problem 

-2- Repetitive behaviours or interests, such as:

Stimming or engaging in echolalia (repeating what they have just heard)

 

Find security in routines. Autistic people filter sensory information differently, so the world can feel overwhelming and chaotic. Routines are predictable and can be a source of comfort 

 

Autistic people can feel more passionately about what they love, so when they have a preferred interest, they may spend a lot of time focusing on it

 

Autistic people can experience hypo- or hyper-sensitivity to sensory information. These differences can impact regulation and comfort. 

Autistic people are born with these traits but often learn to mask (hide) them. Sometimes, these traits only show up when stressed or guards are let down.  

(Criteria based on the Strengths-Based  DSM criteria by Matt Lowry, MS, Eds, LP https://www.mattlowrylpp.com/)

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