Autism Awareness month is about increasing awareness of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Although this disorder is widely known, increasing awareness also involves understanding how people with ASD perceive the world and why they behave the way that they do.
ASD is a developmental condition which is characterised by difficulties in communication, social interaction with others and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests. Although children and adults with ASD share common characteristics, it is important to recognise that there are differences between each person with ASD.
Sometimes it can be difficult for people to understand the behaviours that some individuals with ASD display. Children and adults with ASD may engage in behaviours such as hand flapping, rocking and repeating words. These behaviours serve important and beneficial functions including sensory stimulation and reducing anxiety. Like people with ASD, all human beings use strategies to calm themselves down particularly in stressful and anxious situations such as pacing and fiddling with objects. As our anxiety levels increase, so too do our levels of adrenaline. Engaging in physical behaviours such as hand flapping and pacing can help people burn off adrenaline and reduce anxiety.
Similarities can exist between people with and without a diagnosis of ASD. Studies have found that autistic traits are not limited to people with a diagnosis of ASD, such as social difficulties.
A diagnosis of ASD also does not define someone. Each person with or without ASD has their own individual strengths and uniqueness that makes them the person that they are and this is important to recognise and embrace.
The staff at YoungMinds and Minds4Health can provide education to increase understanding and strategies to develop social skills and manage behaviours and emotions for families and individuals that have ASD or know of someone with ASD. For further information, please contact us on (07) 3857 0074.