Autism Traits

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Latest figures suggest more than 1 in 88 people are on the Autistic Spectrum. That means there are more than 700,000 people in Britain on the spectrum which affects not only their lives but has an impact on the lives of their families and communities too.

Autism is commonly known as a ’triad of impairments’. It is a lifelong developmental difficulty that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It also affects their understanding, imagination and social interaction.  However, I want to concentrate on the positives of Autism - the 'Triad of Strengths'.  Someone on the Autism Spectrum is more likely to be Precise - they pay more attention to detail and therefore make less mistakes.  They are thorough in job tasks and assignments and are very detail oriented ensuring accuracy.  They are also very Honest - they prefer to be truthful, giving a clear account of any incident without embellishment and are very trustworthy.  They can also be Resourceful - often thinking 'outside the box' for solutions, looking at problems from a different angle from everyone else.

 

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

 

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger Syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing the semantics and syntactics of language.

Many people with autism do not have a problem with language itself but can find it difficult to process verbal information. Language is interpreted literally and the individual can find it difficult to get beyond the actual words to understand what the speaker may actually mean. They may dominate a conversation with very little ‘give and take’ especially if the subject is of great interest to them and not pick up the subtle and sometimes not so subtle non- verbal signals the listener is displaying.

 

When a person displays difficulties in processing information it is a natural instinct to repeat the instructions often rephrasing the words. This only leads to further confusion as they need time to process the original information. It is better to keep instructions clear and concise to enable them to understand and be able to continue the task well.

 

Many people with autism can appear withdrawn and shy. This can be the result of a number of things. Being bullied at school or in a former workplace, realising they don’t socially fit in, experiencing depression or anxious they say or do the ‘wrong’ thing. Their self- esteem and confidence is often very low too as a result which exacerbates the problem which in turn leads to even further social isolation and fewer peer friendships.

 

Less than 15% of people on the autistic spectrum are in  employment despite the majority wanting to work.  Those on the spectrum, particularly those with a diagnosis of Asperger's would be a real asset to the workforce if only employers would look less for the 'Triad of Impairments' and paid more attention to the 'Triad of Strengths' listed above.

However it is very important to note, everyone is different and individual. What may affect one person will have no bearing on another therefore it is essential not to stereotype and make assumptions based on generalisation.

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