Autism is a developmental disability. Children with autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder or ASD, have social, communication and language challenges. They also have restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, such as flipping objects, echolalia, or excessive smelling or touching of objects. Children with autism can also have difficulty with sensory processing/modulation and emotional regulation, which can impact their ability to sustain engagement and participation with functional and academic tasks. Praxis/motor planning difficulties can also be associated with autism. Autism can range from mild to severe. Children with autism can present with varied strengths and challenges.
Children with autism may display some of the following behaviors:
Your child may have challenges using social skills to connect with other people. He/She may seem to be in his/her own world. It may be hard for him/her to:
Share a common focus with another person about the same object or event-known as joint attention;
Play with others and share toys;
Make and keep friends.
Your child may have difficulties with communication skills like understanding, talking with others, reading or writing. Sometimes, he/she might lose words or other skills that they used before. Your child may have challenges:
Understanding and using gestures, like pointing, waving, or showing objects to others;
Understanding and using words;
Learning to read or write. Or he/she may read early but without understanding the meaning—called hyperlexia.
Sensory Modulation / Emotional Regulation
Your child may have some of the following difficulties associated with sensory modulation. Sensory modulation can be described as finding a balance between registering (detecting) sensory information and over registering (sensitivity) the information. Effective modulation allows for efficient balancing of excitatory and inhibitory input in order for one to make spontaneous adjustments and adaptations to the ongoing changes in the environment. Optimally, the goal of modulation is for one’s responses to match the constantly changing demands and expectations of the environment. Your child may have challenges:
Initiating and sustaining attention to task
Tolerating non-preferred tasks
Transitioning to new tasks and new environments
Praxis and Motor Planning
Your child may have difficulty executing unfamiliar multistep planned action sequences that can be foundational for learning play skills, functional skills, and academic tasks. Your child may have difficulties:
Learning new motor skills
Planning and sequencing letter formation
Tolerating challenge associated with learning new motor skills
Expanding play repertoires