What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder, also referred to as ASD, is a lifelong neurological disorder that is most often diagnosed in childhood and continues to old age. ASD can be mild, moderate, or severe. Mild Autism used to be classified under the name Asperger’s Syndrome, so you might be more familiar with that term.
Autism Spectrum Disorder can present very differently depending on the nature of the severity. Generally speaking, symptoms involve difficulties with social interactions, non-verbal communication, repetitive movements or restricted interests, and an over-sensitivity to stimuli such as lights, textures, or sounds.
Autism Spectrum Disorder may present in a number of ways, such as:
- Having a flat affect or minimal facial expressions
- Concrete speech, difficulty understanding jokes
- Minimal eye contact
- Atypical body postures or tone of voice
- Lack of empathy, not understanding how others feel
- Having a strong passion for a particular interest or hobby
- Self-harm behaviours
- Not responding to social cues, such as when to end a conversation
- Delayed speech (in children)
- Social withdrawal or lack of interest
How can therapy help with Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Social interactions impact every area of life, including school, work, friendships, relationships, and often hobbies too. Having Autism Spectrum Disorder can make navigating these domains difficult, especially when things are expected of you that you either don’t understand or have no interest in.
Therapy can help individuals on the Autism Spectrum to have a safe, non-judgmental place to discuss whatever is a concern to them, and to learn and practice social skills that can enhance their social functioning. Therapy may also be helpful in developing skills that might not come naturally to a person on the Autism Spectrum. Therapy can help individuals interpret nonverbal cues in social situations, imagine potential social situations before they happen, or work through past social situations. Therapy can also help with a number of symptoms that commonly co-occur with Autism Spectrum Disorder, such as anxiety or depression. Parents, friends, or loved ones may also wish to attend sessions to see how they can support the one who is on the spectrum.