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Emotional Road Blocks
Children with autism often encounter hurdles on the road to making friends. Obstacles include: Understanding how others feel. Expressing feelings. Forming attachments. Showing interest in others.
Missing Social Signals
Many children with ASD do not use social gestures such as waving a hand, nodding a head, or pointing out things. They may use gestures that lack a social component, such as pushing, pulling, or leading others by the hand to get what they want.
Deficits in Joint Attention: An Unspoken Language
Looking where someone else is looking. Focusing on what someone else is looking at. Turning a head in the direction where someone is pointing. This is joint attention. This unspoken language is an important component of developing social and language skills that people with ASD often lack.
Limited Expressive Communication
Some children with ASD: Hum or utter simple words instead of speaking. Repeat exactly what they hear others say (echolalia). Say lines or talk about certain topics in inappropriate places.
Misunderstanding Social Meanings of Language
A common difficulty for kids with ASD is understanding social meanings of language. They often have a harder time understanding subtle humor, abstract ideas, or figures of speech. These children do better with concrete information and straightforward answers.
A Spectrum of IQs
Autism diagnoses range from intellectually gifted to severe or profound mental retardation. Children often have "splinter skills," or uneven skill development. Some children may draw beautifully or remember well, but they may not speak functionally or make eye contact.
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Seeing Everything Magnified
Oftentimes children with ASD overly focus on a small feature of an object or person. Not looking at the whole picture can interfere with understanding. These students can also perseverate on an object or activity at the expense of not being able to pull away to attend to other people or tasks.
An Electric Jolt to the Senses
Unusual reactions to sensory stimulation is not uncommon for children with ASD. Children who are overly sensitive may react strongly against: the feel of different textures, being touched, loud sounds, or specific tastes and smells. Underresponsive reactions to stimulation include children not feeling pain, or they may create more stimulation by: rocking back and forth, spinning repeatedly, rubbing or pushing things to skin.
Sticklers for Sameness
Routine and schedules are important. Not following the schedule at school or moving an object from its place can cause a tantrum. Sometimes verbal children show the need for sameness by talking about the same topic over and over.
Ritualistic and Repetitive Behaviors
Unusual behaviors displayed include: twirling around, flapping hands and wrists, clicking a ball point pen or humming the same notes over and over. A child can spend hours repeating the same motions.
Problem Behavior: Aggression that Can Hurt
Sometimes children with autism show aggressive behaviors toward themselves or others. Inward aggressive behaviors include: Biting self to point of bleeding. Beating fists against head or body. Banging head against wall. Outward aggressive behaviors include: Biting parents. Scratching siblings. Kicking teachers.