What is an Autism Spectrum Condition?

In simple terms, an Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) is a lifelong disability that affects how someone sees the world,
processes information, and relates to other people.

A person with an Autism Spectrum Condition will have some of the following in various degrees

  • Difficulties making friends or keeping them.
  • Lack of empathy.
  • Says the wrong thing.
  • May seem very cold hearted – doesn’t realise they have hurt your feelings.
  • Needs lots of reassurance.
  • Doesn’t like change, likes a routine.
  • Doesn’t like team games, struggles to understand rules.
  • Indifferent to peer pressure, doesn’t need the latest game.
  • Speaks very monotonously.
  • Doesn’t like looking you in the eye.
  • Has particular topics they are fascinated in.
  • Any elaborate routines.
  • Not very good at coordination, catching a ball.
  • Doesn’t feel pain or has a very low pain threshold.

If your dependant has most of these attributes they may have an Autism Spectrum Condition.

If your dependant has most of these attributes they may have an Autism Spectrum Condition.

Classic Autism is generally someone who also has a learning disability. High Functioning Autism (HFA) or Asperger syndrome (AS) is generally someone with average or above average intelligence.

ASC people may also have specific learning difficulties, dyslexia, dyspraxia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or epilepsy.

Areas of difficulty

Also know as the Triad of Impairments

Social Communication

People with an ASC have difficulty understanding facial expressions and tone of voice. They don’t know when to start or stop a conversation, and find it difficult to choose a topic to talk about. They are very literal in their speech, and may not understand jokes, metaphors or sarcasm.

Social Interaction

People with an ASC want to be social, but find it very difficult to do so. They struggle to make and keep friendships, can behave inappropriately and may appear aloof and/or become withdrawn.

Social Imagination

People with an ASC have a limited range of imaginative activities, and find it difficult to predict what will happen next, or cause and effect. They may find it hard to understand other peoples feelings. They often struggle to play ‘let’s pretend’ games.

As well as these three main areas of difficulty, people with ASC may also have the following

A love of routines

A love of routines

Many have rules and rituals they have to do; these can be known as obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) depending on the severity.

Special Interest

Special Interest

They can develop intense, obsessive interest in a subject, which can be an advantage, as people who are very knowledgeable about certain topics can be encouraged to study or work using them.

Sensory Issues

Sensory Issues

Sensory issues can occur with sight, sound, smell, touch or taste. They are either intensified senses or underdeveloped, which can cause anxiety and pain. People with an ASC may not have body awareness and consequently may appear clumsy by bumping into things. They may also have difficulty with fine motor skills.

Their Literal Perception

Lots of children and adults on the spectrum really struggle with literal perception of language.  It gives them a dry sense of humour and can be very funny in lots of situations, but until they learn about idioms and metaphors they will continue to misunderstand language.  Particularly rhetorical questions from teachers as an example.

As parents we have to think about how we use language – teach our children the funny sayings we use in everyday life, but also explain their meanings!

Mum: Sat eating tea, ‘Come on fill your boots’.
Child: ‘Why would anyone want to put carrots in their boots?’

Mum: ‘Get in the shower’.
Child: Got in the shower fully clothed without turning the water on and just stood there.

Frustrated parent trying to get children to bed:  ‘Oh do you want you want!’
Neuro-typical siblings:   Got ready for bed.
Child: Started playing with their toys.

Football coach: ‘OK, I want everyone to pass, pass, pass’.
Child: Spent the whole game passing to anyone, even when he had an open goal right in front of him!!
Reworded instruction from football coach: ‘If you think you can score a goal do it! If not pass to someone else’.

Mum: Told child he used to be in her tummy.
Child: Looked horrified and said ‘Why did you EAT me?’

Child: ‘What is that funny smell?’
Mum: ‘Just your Dad’s ribs in the slow cooker, don’t worry you don’t have to eat them’.
Child: ‘My Dads dead?’

Inspiring families to achieve more

If you need further information or advice please contact us on: 0344 850 8607 or info@cheshireautism.org.uk

0344 850 8607


ChAPS Po Box 155 Frodsham WA6 1BW

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