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Autism and Social Communication
Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) describes a wide range of difficulties experienced by individuals who find social communication challenging. Social communication means having interactions with people ins ays such as making eye contact, sharing jokes or having conversations. The difficulties people with ASD experience can vary widely. Some of these difficulties might include:
- Finding new experiences or meeting new people uncomfortable.
- Having a strong need for consistent, predictable routine.
- Struggling to cope with change, especially when it is unexpected.
- Finding conversation with others very difficult or uncomfortable.
- Having interests that become obsessional with little interest in anything else. These interests may stop suddenly and be replaced with something else.
- Having little interest in people or socialising.
- Finding body language, facial expression and gesture difficult to read in others.
- Using little eye contact, gesture or facial expression themselves.
- Speaking in a way that seems slightly unusual to others (perhaps in an unusual. accent, with a monotone voice or using speech that seems fast, slow, jerky or unusual in some other way).
- Taking things very literally or struggling to understand abstract language.
- Struggling to ‘read between the lines’ in conversation or struggling to read social cues given by others.
- Finding relationships with others difficult to form or maintain.
- Struggling to understand the difference between different sorts of relationships.
- Struggling to engage in imaginative tasks or adapt to new situations.
- Preferring logical or rule based subjects (such as maths and science) to creative subjects.
- Being attracted to small details and parts of objects rather than ‘the whole’. Can get caught up in small details whilst ignoring the ‘big picture’.
- Being very rigid and finding it difficult to change an opinion or reflect on how other peoples views might be different.
- Being very gifted in certain areas such as maths, art, language or music.
- Having unusually strong sensory experiences (such as sounds or lights seeming louder and brighter than to others) or seeming to seek strong sensory experiences (such as tastes or smells).
Females and ASD
Often, females on the autistic spectrum tend to experience ASD differently to males. Females can be better able to mask or hide their difficulties by learning superficial social skills from an early age. Females with ASD might present as:
- Having a strong, almost obsessional interest in people and strong need to socialise or be with others.
- Becoming obsessed with particular people or wanting a very intense relationship with a single person.
- Wanting friends but struggling to maintain relationships.
- Struggling with groups of people but coping well with one person at a time
- Making good eye contact, using gesture when speaking and using a range of facial expressions. However, the use of these non-verbal behaviours may seem slightly unusual or idiosyncratic (for example using quite intense eye contact or using the some facial expressions and gestures repetitively).
- Seeming to be controlling in relationships and social situations.
- Becoming obsessed with ‘fitting in’ but always feeling different from others in some way.
- Seeking objects which they feel would make them popular or becoming obsessed with appearance of clothes, hair and make up.
- Seeming to have a good imagination but tending to repeat themes in play or story writing or act out things which have happened in real life.
Assessment and Diagnosis
Assessment for ASD should be completed by a team of suitably qualified professionals with expertise and experience in the diagnosis of a range of neurodevelopmental disorders. This is because there are many disorders and difficulties which overlap with the difficulties experienced by individuals on the Autistic Spectrum. Consideration of mental health, learning difficulties, trauma and speech and language problems should be explored alongside the diagnostic criteria for ASD. Many individuals are diagnosed incorrectly by inexperienced clinicians who do not work with others effectively to identify the underlying cause of the individual’s difficulties. This can be harmful as the individual does not get the correct support or access to services which may be of benefit to them. Inaccurate diagnosis can affect someone’s identity and beliefs about themselves which may impact negatively on their self esteem and well-being. It also means that those around them do not understand their needs and difficulties well and therefore cannot support them effectively.
We are able to offer a comprehensive assessment to determine whether a child, young person or adult has ASD.
Cerebro Ltd utilise guidelines laid out by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) in planning and conducting assessment for diagnosis of ASD. This means you are guaranteed a high quality assessment, well regarded by both public and private sector health care organisations across the UK.
Please see our services and pricing page for more information