Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a condition that has a broad spectrum of symptoms that can vary drastically from person to person. There’s no single cause for it and no clear consensus as to what is and isn’t a cause in the first place. To the uninitiated, it can be difficult to understand what somebody who has it is going through. In this article, Brian Colpak will help you better understand ASD and how to help somebody suffering from it.
What Makes It A Spectrum?
Symptoms can range from mild social awkwardness — where they may only need a single therapist to help them in some problem areas — to more severe cases, where the person can be non-verbal and require supervision and assistance with almost every aspect of their life. Autism is such a broad diagnosis. That’s why so many people struggle to understand what autism is in the first place.
What Exactly Is ASD?
As mentioned before, autism manifests itself differently in every single person. Going over every possible symptom would not be very helpful, but it is important to recognize some common ones.
The first and most evident symptom is a series of social difficulties that most people with ASD have. They have trouble reading things like social cues and body language. Generally, they are unable or have great difficulty looking at things from the perspective of somebody else. If left untreated, many of these people will stop trying to engage with others altogether. In some cases, they may even start lashing out at others out of frustration, which stems from the challenges they face in making their wants and needs understood.
Being extremely focused on one particular topic and having very little interest in anything else is a near-universal issue in individuals with autism. This manifests itself in many different ways but is generally frustrating for parents and teachers when they need to redirect the individual’s focus to something other than their favorite subject. Having trouble with or outright refusing to make eye contact is widespread as well. Eye contact is extremely overstimulating for many individuals with autism, and therefore many tend to avoid it at all costs.
Difficulty forming friendships can be devastating for anyone, but for someone with ASD who wants to connect with others, disappointments in social relationships are magnified. Most autistic children want to have people with whom they can form relationships. However, their problems with social skills make this very difficult. They may find that having a narrow band of interests severely limits how they can interact with their peers. Even if they do make friends, they may have trouble maintaining them.
How Can I Help?
Too often people with ASD are treated like they are completely helpless. While there are cases where the symptoms are more severe, which makes it more challenging to interact with them in the same way as with a neuro-typical person, most autistic individuals would like to be treated just like anyone else. Being patient and being willing to work with them in areas they struggle with while allowing them to shine on their own is the best way to help.
Autism Spectrum Disorder covers a broad scope of differing symptoms. No two people are exactly alike, and that is doubly true when it comes to people with ASD. Learning to understand what they are going through will allow you to connect with them and understand how to provide support.
About Brian Colpak
Brian Colpak is a tech entrepreneur and the founder of Continental Global. After spending most of his career in managerial positions, he founded and led a company that was recognized as one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in Massachusetts before starting his current company. These days his main focus is on an upcoming project in Dubai.