Autism

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Its an Autism thingIt’s been quite a journey to finally get the official diagnosis of Autism. Braxton does not have Genetic Autism but Environmental Autism. He was diagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder at the age of six. Braxton has shown characteristics of Autism for as long as I can remember. Instead of playing with his hot wheel cars, Braxton preferred to line them up around the car mat and then proceed to move them one at a time. God forbid, if you moved one of his cars before the other or bumped one out of line. This would send him into a tail spin and full out meltdown. Autism Meltdown Its so cute to see Braxton get super excited because his hands start flapping and you’re thinking to yourself, is he going to take off and fly right out of here. Braxton does not like social situations, even though he has gotten a ton better with practice. He still prefers to be by himself most of the time. However if you get him to start talking about his two favorite subjects, social studies and art, or a book that he is reading, you better be in it for the long haul. Now at the age of 14, Braxton will introduce himself to you and shake your hand. Sometimes I will prompt him and other times he will on his own. As far as eye contact, well over the years he has learned to make eye contact and sometimes it is so intense you feel as though you need to take a step back from him and other times it is fleeting. Whatever it may be I am just glad that he has learned to make appropriate eye contact. It is so neat watching Braxton talk and explain things. Sometimes its as though he is reciting something in his head by the way his eyes look, kind of rolled backed and up, as if reading an imaginary screen.

strengths

Social skills
Very little or no eye contact.
Resistance to being held or touched.
Tends to get too close when speaking to someone (lack of personal space).
Responds to social interactions, but does not initiate them.
Does not generally share observations or experiences with others.
Difficulty understanding jokes, figures of speech or sarcasm.
Difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation.social skill deficits
Difficulty understanding group interactions.
Aversion to answering questions about themselves.
Gives spontaneous comments which seem to have no connection to the current conversation.
Makes honest, but inappropriate observations.
Seems unable to understand another’s feelings.
Prefers to be alone, aloft or overly-friendly.
Difficulty maintaining friendships.
Finds it easier to socialize with people that are older or younger, rather than peers of their own age.
Unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.
Talks excessively about one or two topics (dinosaurs, movies, etc.).
Overly trusting or unable to read the motives behinds peoples’ actions.
Minimal acknowledgement of others.

Linguistic/language development
Abnormal use of pitch, intonation, rhythm or stress while speaking.
Speech is abnormally loud or quiet.
Difficulty whispering.
Repeats last words or phrases several times. Makes verbal sounds while listening (echolalia).
Often uses short, incomplete sentences.
Pronouns are often inappropriately used.
May have a very high vocabulary.
Uses a person’s name excessively when speaking to them (“Mary, we are having lunch. Right, Mary?”).
Speech started very early and then stopped for a period of time.
Difficulty understanding directional terms (front, back, before, after).

Behaviours
Obsessions with objects, ideas or desires.
Ritualistic or compulsive behaviour patterns (sniffing, licking, watching objects fall, flapping arms, spinning, rocking, humming, tapping, sucking, rubbing clothes).
Fascination with rotation.autistics can have unusual attachments
Play is often repetitive.
Many and varied collections.
Unusual attachment to objects.
Quotes movies or video games.
Difficulty transferring skills from one area to another.
Perfectionism in certain areas.
Frustration is expressed in unusual ways.
Feels the need to fix or rearrange things.
Transitioning from one activity to another is difficult.
Difficulty attending to some tasks.
Gross motor skills are developmentally behind peers (riding a bike, skating, running).
Fine motor skills are developmentally behind peers (hand writing, tying shoes, scissors).
Inability to perceive potentially dangerous situations.
Extreme fear (phobia) for no apparent reason.
Verbal outbursts.
Unexpected movements (running out into the street).
Difficulty sensing time (Knowing how long ten minutes is or three days or a week).
Difficulty waiting for their turn (such as in a line).
Causes injury to self (biting, banging head).

Emotions or sensitivities
Sensitivity or lack of sensitivity to sounds, textures (touch), tastes, smells or light.
Difficulty with loud or sudden sounds.
Unusually high or low pain tolerance.
Intolerance to certain food textures, colours or the way they are presented on the plate (one food can’t touch another).
Inappropriate touching of self in public situations.
Desires comfort items (blankets, teddy, rock, string).
Laughs, cries or throws a tantrum for no apparent reason.
Resists change in the environment (people, places, objects).
An emotional incident can determine the mood for the day – emotions can pass very suddenly or are drawn out for a long period of time.
Becomes overwhelmed with too much verbal direction.
Tends to either tune out or break down when being reprimanded.
Calmed by external stimulation – soothing sound, brushing, rotating object, constant pressure (hammock, rolled in a blanket).
May need to be left alone to release tension and frustration.

School-related skills
Exceptionally high skills in some areas and very low in others.
Excellent rote memory in some areas.
Difficulty with reading comprehension (can quote an answer, but unable to predict, summarize or find symbolism).
Difficulty with fine motor activities (colouring, printing, scissors, gluing).
Short attention span for most lessons.
Resistance or inability to follow directions.
Difficulty transitioning from one activity to another in school.

Health/movement
Walks on toes.
Unusual gait.
Difficulty changing from one floor surface to another (carpet to wood, sidewalk to grass).
Odd or unnatural posture (rigid or floppy).
Difficulty moving through a space (bumps into objects or people).
Walks without swinging arms freely.
Incontinence of bowel and/or bladder.
Constipation.
Frequent gas (flatulence, burping) or throwing up.
Appearance of hearing problems, but hearing has been checked and is fine.
Seizure activity.
Allergies and food sensitivities.
Irregular sleep patterns.
Apparent lack of concern for personal hygiene (hair, teeth, body odours).