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Life with Autism Spectrum Disorder

Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) can be different for each individual depending on their specific diagnosis, but there are a few tips that can make life a little easier across the spectrum for the individual with ASD and their families.
 
ASD is a complex developmental disability, according to the Autism Society of America. Signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.
 
Some of the behaviors associated with Autism include: delayed learning of language; difficulty making eye contact or holding a conversation; difficulty with executive functioning, which relates to reasoning and planning; narrow, intense interests; poor motor skills’ and sensory sensitivities. A person on the spectrum might follow many of these behaviors or just a few, or many others, according to the Autism Society. The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is applied based on analysis of all behaviors and their severity.
 
One of the core challenges or "deficits" with Autism is with socializing, or "social deficits." For example, someone with Autism may have a hard-time reading social cues. You might understand that when someone turns away, the conversation is over. A person with Autism may not understand that and may want to walk after them.
 
Challenges with communication can vary from person to person. A communication deficit can mean someone cannot communicate at all or it can mean that someone is very verbal but is very literal. You tell them to sit the right and they say, “Oh, I should not sit left?”
 
Early intervention is key to good outcomes. If a parent or relative has concerns, go to another doctor and get a second opinion.
 
One way to help individuals with ASD is to follow routines, but remember to teach coping skills as well.

Consistency and routines are really important, however it can also have a downside. What happens often with routines, is that people don't always teach how to deal with a change in routine.
 
Empower the individual who has ASD by teaching them to be aware of how they react in certain situations, offering coping skills and a system for adjusting a routine, she said.
 
Educating yourself about what to expect and strategies for living with Autism in the classroom, the workplace or the community can be helpful for family members. The free Autism Internet Modules (AIM) is a good resource for families of individuals with ASD who want to learn more. Each AIM is designed to provide high-quality information and professional development for anyone who supports, instructs, works with or lives with someone with autism, according to the AIM website. Each module guides you through case studies, instructional videos, pre- and post-assessments, a glossary, and much more.
 
Autism Speaks also has great toolkits about a variety of topics such as Puberty and Adolescence Resource, Employment Tool Kit, and Medication Decision Aid.

Other toolkits focus on advocacy, behavioral health treatments, anxiety during doctor and dentist visits, constipation and issues with food among others. Click here to view a list of Autism Speaks tool kits.

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Updated on April 2, 2020
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