Can you be autistic and social

Social Communication - Autism Tasmania

People on the autism spectrum are just as likely as their typically developing peers to enjoy engaging with others in activities that interest them. Difficulties with social communication are however a diagnostic criterion for autism and they present in a spectrum of ways. Some people on the autism spectrum may seek social opportunities and may initiate social interactions themselves, others may enjoy social situations and interactions when they are initiated effectively by others. Many have a genuine desire for friendship but may find the process of making and sustaining friendships difficult.

“…everyone wants to inherently connect with others, it’s just through a different filter.” – Chris Varney – Founder and Chief Enabling Officer of the I CAN Network

A person on the autism spectrum may display a number of social communication differences. It is important to remember that not every item on the following list applies to all. They may:

  • Not respond, or may take longer to respond, to verbal communication by other people
  • Find eye contact uncomfortable
  • Rarely use nonverbal gestures to communicate (for example, nodding their head or gesturing with their hands)
  • Not take social cues from other people’s actions (for example lining up in a queue, stop talking when the teacher enters the room). People on the autism spectrum may need these “hidden” social rules to be explicitly taught
  • Echo words they hear – they may repeat patterns of words without attaching any apparent meaning to them. They may be exceptional at mimicry and use this effectively to fit in socially.
  • Have difficulty effectively communicating their own wants and needs. This often leads to frustration.
  • Display a reduced tendency to share their interests with others, or the sharing is unequal (for example, the person may talk excessively about their own interests without referencing to see if the other person is interested).

“Striking up conversations with strangers is something like extreme sports for Autistic people” Kamran Nazeer

There are two particular social communication differences experienced by many people on the autism spectrum which provide insight into why social interactions are often challenging: predicting and interpreting others’ behaviour, and receptive and expressive communication differences.

Predicting and interpreting others’ behaviour

Theory of mind refers to the understanding that other people have different thoughts, desires and needs to you. It involves being able to “put yourself in someone else’s shoes”. Delayed development of theory of mind may impact on a person’s social interactions. He/she may have difficulty predicting and interpreting the behaviours of others and may also have trouble understanding the effects of their own behaviour on the people around them.

“It is an intellectual process, rather than intuitive, which is why socialising is draining”. Alex Sina

Individuals on the autism spectrum often have difficulty recognising and understanding social cues and therefore do not instinctively learn to adjust their behaviour to suit different social contexts.

People with autism may well have the potential to learn these skills however. See subsection “Supporting social development” for more information.

Receptive and expressive communication

Communication differences in autism can be divided into two different domains: receptive communication and expressive communication

Receptive communication

Receptive communication refers to the ability to understand the communicative attempts of others. This involves the ability to make sense of spoken language, body language, facial expressions and tone of voice. People on the autism spectrum may have difficulties in this area of communication.

Individuals with autism often understand language literally and have difficulty with understanding and using the natural rhythm in conversation. This can lead to frequent misunderstandings.

It is helpful when communicating with a person on the autism spectrum to be aware of their likely tendency towards concrete thinking. They may interpret language very literally and therefore have difficulties understanding figures of speech and metaphors. For example, when discussing the changes inherent in puberty, The Raising Children’s Network notes: “If you describe your son’s voice as ‘breaking’, your child might find this worrying. Instead you could say something like, ‘Your voice is changing and will get deeper’.”

“People say that you always have to tell the truth. But they do not mean this because you are not allowed to tell old people that they are old and you are not allowed to tell people if they smell funny or if a grown-up has made a fart. And you are not allowed to say, “I don’t like you,” unless that person has been horrible to you.” – Christopher, the fictional main character with Autism in the novel Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time.

Expressive communication

People on the autism spectrum may also show differences in their expressive communication – or using language and non-verbal behaviours to communicate a message or make themselves understood. They may show a variety of expressive communication differences. Some may experience ongoing significant delays in obtaining language; others may have a well-developed vocabulary but may use language in idiosyncratic ways.

Eye contact is another component of expressive communication. Some people on the autism spectrum may find maintaining eye contact uncomfortable, even painful, and may therefore unintentionally appear disinterested or rude.

“And now I know it is perfectly natural for me not to look at someone when I talk…In fact, I don’t really understand why it’s considered normal to stare at someone’s eyeballs.” – John Elder Robinson

Spoken language development

Some people on the autism spectrum do not develop the ability to use spoken language. However, they may use other forms of purposeful communication such as vocalisation (including crying and sounds to draw another’s attention), using gestures (such as signing, eye gaze, or pointing) or augmentative and alternative communication systems (such as picture based systems or communication technology).

Speech Generating Devices (SGDs) are an example of an augmentative and alternative communication system. Specific communication apps have also been developed which may be used on an iPad or Android tablet.

The Autism Association of Western Australia has developed an online resource, Autism Apps, that offers information about:

  • how to use an iPad effectively
  • how to support people with autism using technology
  • tips for selecting a useful app
  • Information related to the National Curriculum and Evidence Based Practice for supporting individuals with autism

“I am not able to talk out of my mouth, however I have found another way to communicate by spelling on my computer. ”- Carly Fleishmann

Supporting social development

When people with autism experience social communication difficulties, their capacity and confidence to interact socially is affected. This section discusses ways in which the social development of people with autism can be supported.

Many people on the autism spectrum can successfully improve their social interaction skills. Teaching social skills generally involves three steps:

  • Social skills and expectations are broken down into manageable steps;
  • These steps are explained in concrete and visual ways; and
  • Opportunities to practice new skills are provided.

Teaching social skills and expectations can have a positive effect on a person’s self-confidence and mental wellbeing. Some areas in which people on the autism spectrum may need individualised support include:

  • Starting and maintaining conversations
  • Asking for help
  • Sharing
  • Reading non-verbal cues
  • Recognising emotional responses
  • Becoming aware of appropriate proximity and personal space
  • Learning to compromise and resolve conflict
  • Coping with losing
  • Protective and risk reduction behaviours
  • Learning to deal with peer pressure
  • Learning to deal with bullying
  • Developing positive friendship skills

There are several useful resources for finding out more about supporting social development:

  • Raising Children’s Network website – in particular, the article ‘Social skills for teenagers with autism spectrum disorder’.
  • The National Autistic Society’s articles on Communication

Specific group programs aimed at helping the person with autism to develop social skills, such as the Secret Agent Society, may also be a helpful.

Unfortunately, some people on the autism spectrum experience anxiety in regards to social interaction as a result of their sustained social efforts, self-perceived social failures and sensory hypersensitivities. This may cause the person to withdraw and avoid interaction.

If you are concerned about the mental wellbeing of a child on the autism spectrum it is wise to seek expert help. Autism Tasmania’s Autism Advisors can help you find the right health or allied health professional to assist you and your child to navigate this challenging period.

An understanding of behavioural and sensory challenges experienced by people on the autism spectrum are intertwined with understanding the challenges presented by social communication differences.

“But She’s Too Social To Be Autistic” – WRONG!

Read the latest issue of the Oaracle

“But She’s Too Social To Be Autistic” – WRONG!

September 07, 2016

By: Organization for Autism Research

Autism looks different for each person. Although social deficits are common, there are no defining factors of autism.  In a post from her blog, Girl Tribe, Jessica reflects on her experience as a parent of two girls with autism.

We have been blessed with two daughters on the autistic spectrum who have pretty opposite struggles when it comes to socialisation.

For many many years before Sno was diagnosed I got told that she was “just shy” or “very serious”. She would often struggle in large groups, noisy crowds would scare her and she has always taken a while to warm to new people. She’s definitely regarded as an introvert and isn’t really affectionate at all… but when she is, oh – it’s heart-meltingly gorgeous. Sno has always struggled with friendships and I remember her at the age of four, 2 years before she was diagnosed – coming home to me from kindergarten confused about why one of her peers wanted to hold her hand during a song they were singing. When I asked why she didn’t want to she simply told me “Well because I don’t know her. And if I don’t know her well, I don’t want her touching me.” Fair enough kid, I thought back then.

Wilding on the other hand is a completely different kettle of fish. I was told before she was diagnosed with ASD that she couldn’t be autistic because she was “too social” to have autism. She loves people, would regularly run up to random people at the library and ask them to read her stories. She is super affectionate and adores to cuddle. She makes friends easily and is loved and cherished by many simply for her embracing, warm character.

Two girls so opposite in personalities and yet they both are autistic. How is this possible? I’ll tell you how.

Being an introvert or an extrovert has nothing to do with being autistic.

It’s kinda like being right or left handed. Whilst Sno has struggles with beginnings to form friendships (a lot about the how/when/why), Wilding’s struggles are understanding appropriate social conduct and behaviour and respecting the personal space of others. In Sno’s eyes it seems there are so many grey areas of friendships which she finds very overwhelming and confusing with lots of rules to follow that she doesn’t quite grasp; but with Wilding she doesn’t understand that you can’t just rock up to a stranger and sit in their lap because you think they look nice. She also doesn’t understand that sure, that man over there may be incredibly overweight but it’s probably not the nicest thing for him to hear you commenting on how he may break the chair soon if he doesn’t get up. I’ve also had a situation where she didn’t want to be friends with someone because (and she vocalised this in front of the child) their hat was the colour of vomit. Ahem… yep.

There are so many situations in daily life that neurotypical people do without even thinking or putting in much of a concerted effort to achieve. Situations like understanding what to say to someone who may be feeling sad; how to comfort someone who isn’t feeling well, how to make a new friend, what to say to someone when they pay you a compliment. All these sort of situations are answered and managed without hesitation for someone who isn’t autistic but for someone who is; they can require a lot of effort and forethought and this can be pretty daunting.

Teaching appropriate social conduct can be really tricky and requires patience. With Sno it often helps to do “Comic Strip Conversations” to break down social situations and enable her to see what others may be feeling at the same time as her during a social situation that she doesn’t understand. I have also found these books to be really helpful for Sno because they help simplify stuff and give her tools she can add to her toolbox and use when she feels the need. I know for Sno that she loves to read and also loves logic and things that make sense so books which give a series of answers can really help her feel better equipped to deal with situations she feels a bit lost in.

Things that have helped Wilding is learning about emotions and facial expressions and thinking out loud about how what we say might make someone else feel. Daniel Tiger is also fantastic because the episodes are essentially broken down social stories explaining different things ranging from eating, getting dressed, going out and feeling sad. Oh and Daniel Tiger also has a terrific App which explores feelings, too. This book helped Wilding grasp the concept of personal space, too. And hula hoops provide a great clear visual surrounding what personal space is in a tangible way. We use them a lot when we eat outside!

Being “shy” or “outgoing” are not the defining factors of autism. People on the spectrum can be both and so many times, they’re hiding in plain sight – if only people were aware of just how wrong these myths surrounding being autistic were.

We see you, girls. Or I do, anyway. And I think you’re pretty incredible.

About the Author

Hello! I’m Jessica. I’m the passionate, honest Writer and Owner of GirlTribe. I live on the beautiful Sunshine Coast with my wonderful husband and our four spirited daughters. Two of our daughters have autism (ASD) along with my husband and two of our daughters don’t. They’re all wonderful. Together we are raising strong daughters who we encourage to question the status quo and challenge gender stereotypes. We want our girls to be bold in their rhythm and embrace difference and neuro-diversity. I really enjoy eating cornchips, fitting in yoga where I can, cooking delicious curries and getting beach therapy whenever I can. I hate coriander and general ignorance.

Can an autistic person be social?


Clinical psychologist on the importance of teaching children with autism social skills

Author: Bill Nason / Bill Nason
Autism Discussion Page

9000 9000 9000

It seems that exists, it seems that it exists. confusion about "social abilities" and their degree in children with autism. Social "ability" should not be confused with social "interest". It seems that many people still hold onto the misconception that people on the autism spectrum are not interested in socializing. The stereotypical idea of ​​a person with autism is someone closed, indifferent to others. Although some people on the autism spectrum have no genuine interest in relationships with other people, many people with autism are very socially motivated. What distinguishes them from others is not “social interest”, but their “social abilities”, which create problems with the development of relations. nine0003

Many children on the autism spectrum make great efforts to connect with other people and long to have friends and close relationships. Unfortunately, they are greatly hindered in establishing and maintaining relationships by difficulties in understanding other people's thoughts, feelings and points of view, perception of social context and unwritten social rules, difficulty in exchanging remarks and maintaining a conversation.

Children on the spectrum, even if they have a very strong need for relationships, will usually find it difficult to "fit in". It is difficult for them to coordinate mutual games with alternation of actions, to maintain purposeful communication, to correct the conversation in case of misunderstanding. They may be aware of these difficulties and try to play side by side but not in a group, or they may be unaware of their problems and try to dominate the game. They may not understand social boundaries and therefore be overly intrusive or bossy when playing. They may not be able to play in turns or understand the social rules of the game. Often they try to dictate what, when and how to play. Often they assume that others want to play just like they do, and they don't understand that other children might want something different and that they have the same responsibility for regulating play. As the child matures, this inability to recognize, consider, and cooperate with play begins to annoy other children, who begin to avoid or tease the child with autism. nine0003

So the difference in autism comes down to "social ability" rather than "social interest. " For this reason, we must provide these children with many opportunities to:

1. Recognize and read other people's intentions and points of view.

2. Recognize and read nonverbal cues.

3. Initiate and maintain the exchange of remarks, mutual communication.

4. Read the unwritten rules of communication in a given context. nine0003

Without these skills, the child will be helpless in this confusing world of "relationships" with others. This helplessness causes very strong anxiety in social situations, which turns into severe depression after several years of “trying to fit in” and “I don’t understand it at all!”

Even if the child does not have a strong interest in relationships, these skills are essential for "adapting" and "coexisting" with others for leisure, work, and a successful life in our highly social world. However, we must listen to and respect the social desires (degree of social interest) of the child. Many children are not interested in communication, for many, communication with other people causes exhaustion. Let the child's social interest determine what degree of contact with other people is appropriate for him. Do not force him to communicate more than his social interests dictate. This will cause difficulties and exhaustion, as a result, communication with other people will be associated in the child with negative experiences. nine0003

When children become adults, their quality of life will depend not on academic skills, but on social functioning in this world. Many people on the autism spectrum can get a high school diploma but can't keep a job because they can't handle the social demands of the workplace. We need to make social “relationship” skills a priority for teaching these children, providing them with the tools to successfully communicate with others. From an early age, the educational plan for a child with autism should include teaching social skills. nine0003

Provide these children with many and regular opportunities to socialize: meet-ups to play with another child accompanied by an adult, leisure groups, scouts, dance clubs, adapted sports clubs and other social situations in which the child will learn and practice social skills. In schools, peer tutoring services and peer mentoring programs are vital, we must teach social skills in real social situations. Make learning to relate to others a top priority so that your child feels safe, accepted, and competent in the social world. nine0003

A little warning for parents. Do not confuse your own desire for a child to be sociable and have many friends, and the desire of the child himself. Very often, children do not have the same need for a relationship as you do. For some children this is true, for others it is not. Some children need small social contacts related to their favorite activities, topics or interests. Other children need frequent and prolonged social contact.

Also try to never throw children into unstructured "play with other children" situations. With a high probability, this will lead to the fact that children feel incompetent because they do not know how to behave in a peer group. We often make the mistake of thinking that we just need to throw the child into social groups as often as possible, and then the child's social skills will develop by themselves. It will not happen. Start small: just meetings with one child with pre-arranged games, when it will be easier for the child to establish a relationship. Keep all social situations simple, planned and short. Remember that trying to interact with other people takes a lot of mental energy from the child. Start with simple situations, gradually increase their duration and variety, and let the child determine how much communication he can handle. nine0003

How to develop social skills in autism through games?

How to teach a child with autism to communicate with other children?

How can I help a child with Asperger's find friends?

How to teach a child with autism to play?

We hope you found this material useful or interesting. You can contribute to the work of the Foundation by clicking on the "Help" button.

Parenting with Autism, Social Skills

What's wrong with the word "autistic", how to communicate with such people and other embarrassing questions about ASD

On World Autism Awareness Day, Mel publishes answers to questions that may arise for anyone who has heard something about it, but did not dare to ask. Igor Spitsberg, a specialist in the field of rehabilitation of children with autism and the head of the Nash Solnechny Mir ANO, talks about what it would be desirable for every person in the modern world to know about autism.

— What signs might indicate that a person has autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a disease listed in the International Classification of Diseases. People with autism have a huge range of conditions: from deeply severe, when a person cannot live without an accompaniment, to quite ordinary conditions, when his autistic traits can be mistaken for character traits. Therefore, the manifestations can be very different. For example, a child of three or four years old with a mild form of autism will be talkative, even sociable - he can talk for a long time and with enthusiasm about some of his own things that are interesting to him: about trains, railways, or about the subway, or about buses, or about numbers , or something else. At the same time, you may notice that he does not listen to you very much and that it does not matter to him whether you hear him or not. And by the way, this may be a child without autism, or maybe with mild Asperger's syndrome. A child of exactly the same age with a more severe form of autism looks just like anyone else, but when you try to address him, you most likely will not notice any reaction: there will be a feeling that you are not being heard. You contact him - he does not react in any way. You try to take his hand - he jumps back and starts shaking his hand in front of his eyes, for example (one of the options, there may be other unusual reactions for you), or runs away somewhere. If you persistently try to touch him or say something to him, he may start hitting himself on the head and screaming, he may just start running around the room, he may purposefully throw things off your table, for example, to be punished and taken away, he may simply run away and break on the door. nine0003

There is a category of children with a severe form who allow you to do whatever you want with them, but at the same time they mumble something and do not pay attention to you.

You take his hand - he gives this hand to you, like a lizard throws off its tail, but at the same time he is with himself, and you are with his hand

If we are talking about an adult with autism, then between two polar states - the lightest and heaviest - a huge range. That is why it is called "autism spectrum disorders" - this spectrum is very wide and includes very different disorders. nine0003

Dr. Steven Shore, one of the most famous adults with autism in the world, a good friend of mine and a friend of our center, went from a child with severe autism to a university professor. He did not speak until the age of six, and his parents were offered to take him to a special institution in America. Now he is about sixty, he teaches in more than forty countries of the world, one of the most recognized experts in special education (teaching people with special needs). He owns the phrase "If you know one person with autism, then you only know one person with autism" - because all people with ASD are different. In fact, this, of course, is not entirely true: if they were completely different in general, it would be impossible to help them, but nevertheless they can differ quite a lot. nine0003

An adult with autism looks almost indistinguishable from others. There are professions where there are a lot of people with autism: for example, about half of those who work as programmers are well-compensated people with an autism spectrum disorder. My eldest son is a programmer, he had a rather severe form of autism in childhood, he did not speak until he was four and a half years old. Now he is 33, in the psycho-emotional sphere he is developed for about 15 years, but intellectually developed by age and does not really stand out among other programmers, who are also often very strange. nine0003

Among people with autism there are also famous people - Bill Gates, for example, Anthony Hopkins, actress Daryl Hannah

The mass of people with a confirmed autism spectrum disorder are quite socialized, but with certain conditions that they are forced to comply with. And there are people at the same age who do not speak, hit themselves on the head, scream, they are not able to stabilize their emotional state and suffer greatly because of this. Usually they either live in special institutions, or someone constantly accompanies them. nine0003 Entrepreneur Bill Gates at the Elysee Palace. Photo: Shutterstock / Frederic Legrand - COMEO

- Is it curable?

There is no single drug that can cure autism. Which, by the way, once again confirms the theory that autism is not a disease, but this type of adaptation. How to treat the type of adaptation? There is no cure, but if in early childhood - from one to two years - to identify it and start teaching the child everything that an ordinary child learns on his own, if comprehensive rehabilitation is carried out using the maximum number of methods with proven effectiveness, choosing for the child what is right for him at the moment is better suited, then 60% of children can be adapted. nine0003

Because of the variety of autistic conditions, people with autism need a variety of forms of support. Our center was created 30 years ago by parents for their own children - my eldest son was one of the first patients here, and we had an absolutely practical task - to somehow adapt our children in this society and the world.

Psychiatrists in cases like my son’s still say: “Don’t hope for anything. He will never speak, he will never go to school”

But, of course, this does not suit the parents. We quickly realized that our task was to teach a child with autism everything that a normal child would learn on his own. This is the main algorithm for helping children with autism. We do not consider them sick children. It is clear that this is a disease, but we do not separate them from all other children. We believe that all children have the same needs, desires, tasks, but different opportunities. A child with a severe spastic form of cerebral palsy cannot move; a mentally retarded child (with Down syndrome, for example, accompanied by retardation) does not understand everything; a child with autism has its own specifics of interaction with the outside world, but all these children are children. And our task is to help them learn how to live in this world. And for this, you need to understand well how an ordinary child develops, what are the features of the development of children with autism, and try to create situations in which they will learn comfortably. A wide variety of corrective methods are suitable for this, and we were one of the developers of a comprehensive rehabilitation program that everyone uses now, but almost no one worked like this 30 years ago. nine0003

After developing our children for 30 years, we realized that we had to do two things: to promote the development of each individual child and to change society so that it could better and better accept these children.

Therefore, we initially worked with the problem of accessibility, thinking about how to make sure that children with autism could attend circles, sections, studios, museums, go to camps, go to kindergartens, so that they have access to everything that they have ordinary child. And we started to train kindergarten teachers, circle teachers, coaches. When our first children went to schools, we realized that they needed an accompanying teacher. nine0003

Now this person is called "tutor", then there was no such word - we came up with the word "adapter" and trained these "adapters"

Then our children grew up, and the question of employment arose - we studied this question: what forms of employment are possible for which children (with what form of disability). Therefore, answering your question: it is impossible to cure, but it is possible to create conditions under which a person with autism will live an almost normal full life.

- Can you understand how people with autism feel, why they behave so strangely, why they scream, why they need to unload in silence from time to time? nine0065

Autism as a form of disability is much easier to understand for anyone. If you sit in a wheelchair, you will not experience all that a wheelchair user feels, and being blindfolded is not at all the same as congenital blindness. But it is very easy to feel autistic, because any of us from time to time finds ourselves in a situation where he is uncomfortable, uncomfortable, when he is shy about something. Anyone has ever felt the so-called sensory overload, when you feel terribly uncomfortable if you are being touched, as well as auditory and visual overload, when every sound or bright flash of light causes almost physical pain and you really want to be in silence or darkness. nine0003

What are we doing to recover? Trying to be somewhere quiet and alone

Autistic people have auto-stimulation when they wave their hands in front of their eyes, or jump up and down, or sway, or whatever. You and I also have autostimulations, they are just different - for example, drink a cup of coffee, smoke, eat an eclair. We do things that calm us down. This is auto-stimulation. In general, an ordinary person experiences the same thing as a person with ASD, we just know how to control ourselves better, we recover faster, and we rarely have such states. nine0003

— Where does autism even come from?

Science does not know the answer to this question. There are many theories, a huge number of features of brain development and genetics associated with autism have been identified. But there is no scientifically proven theory why autism occurs.

The general position is this: for the onset of autism, two factors must develop: first, there must be an innate predisposition, and second, some event must occur, most often between the ages of one and two, which can lead to the emergence of autism. Somewhere in the interval from one to two years in a person's life, some kind of fracture most often occurs (it happens at other ages, but less often). People with severe autism are different from the start, but there aren't many of them. The bulk of children with autism, somewhere up to a year and a half, look like ordinary children, and then suddenly the child abruptly begins to interact worse with others - speech, communication, and so on disappear. nine0003

What is happening at this moment? There are many theories, but there is no single proven version.

Our center is the developer of one of the theories, the essence of which is that there is no autism as a single disease, there is an autism-like type of adaptation

This means that the reasons can be very different, but if the child cannot naturally effectively interact with the outside world , then this auto-like type of adaptation can form in him as an alternative to the usual one. Simply put, if the outside world is not given to the child, then he can switch to his own feelings and begin to defend himself from the outside world. This happens in children with cerebral palsy when they stop interacting with the world, and in children with Down syndrome, and in children with autism. nine0003 Photo: Shutterstock / Studio.G photography

The world as a whole is now approaching precisely this theory, because everyone sees that the reasons can be very different: organic lesions of the central nervous system, and genetic diseases, and sensory anomalies (never seeing and non-hearing children), and there may be children without any somatic problems at all - but everyone has the same autism.

- That is, in absolutely any family, people with any heredity, of any age, with any disease or perfectly healthy, drinkers or not, with any methods of education, a child can manifest autistic features? nine0065

Yes, anyone. Of course, there are factors that influence the likelihood of developing autism. And if we consider autism not as some one anomaly, failure, but as a violation of adaptation processes (that is, something has arisen - and the child does not interact with this world very well, does not understand it, and autism develops in him), then this also explains why autism can occur in anyone. Children can be with poor genetic heredity, with the consequences of organic lesions of the central nervous system as a result of birth trauma and without all this - but their autism will be approximately the same. It can also occur in a child of completely healthy parents, athletes leading an exceptionally healthy lifestyle, who have never had anything like this in any generation. nine0003

- What is the right and not offensive for a person to call someone with autism? Are there any special words for this?

“Autistic” is incorrect, just like talking about a child “down” and not “a child with Down syndrome”. It is correct to say "a person with autism", "a child with autism" or "a child with an autism spectrum disorder".

There is another nuance here. About 20 years ago, the American community of people with autism began to take offense at the fact that when people talk about them, they use the expressions "normal development" and "autistic development". nine0003

They said, “Why 'normal'? Are we crazy, or what?”

And then they suggested using a term like "neurotypical". That is, regarding "autistic behavior" - "autistic development", and ordinary people are "neurotypical", neurotypical. When this term came to Russia, it was distorted, as is often the case with foreign words, and we began to talk about people who do not have developmental features, not "neurotypical", but "normotypical", that is, in fact, they returned to to what they were leaving - from not pronouncing the word "norm". In our country, the word "norm-typical" can be heard even from the minister. nine0003

- It seems that there are more children with autism. Is it true or not? Or did they start talking about it more?

- According to 2020 data, one in 54 children in America has an autism spectrum disorder. These are monstrous figures: such a number of children do not suffer from any disease. It is clear that in America autism is given to very “light” children (not in Europe, therefore in the EU countries it is believed that every hundredth child has autism), but it’s good that they put it: thanks to this, teachers understand that the child is not fooling around, but it has some peculiarities and it is necessary to take them into account. nine0003

According to 2015 WHO data (they have not been updated since), one in 160 children in the world has autism

And even these figures make autism the most common childhood disease in the world. For example: in 1990, autism was diagnosed in one child out of 1,600. That is, even if we take the WHO data, and not the “American”, then in thirty years there has been a tenfold increase. This means that the number of children diagnosed with autism is increasing by 15-17% annually.

— Is the number of cases on the rise, or have they become better and more likely to detect autism? nine0065

Both. There is an unconditional increase in the number of children and an improvement in diagnostic methods, that is, autism has become better detected. In addition, many parents whose children, say, from the age of 10, were diagnosed with "mental retardation" read about autism on the Internet, went to be re-examined and received this diagnosis. Plus, a certain number of adults with Asperger's syndrome, more or less living in society and suffering all their lives because they are some kind of wonderful and do not understand them, learn about Asperger's syndrome, go to be re-examined and also receive this diagnosis . That is, in addition to the increase in the number of cases and the improvement of detection methods, the diagnosis is still being refined. nine0003

— Why is the number of children with autism on the rise?

Unknown. In this case, I think in the same way as most of the scientific community: this has not been proven, but everyone understands that genetics is deteriorating, and it is deteriorating due to the fact that food, water, air around us are changing, new factors of influence, sources pollution, radiation, and so on. Autism is not the only disease that is increasingly manifesting in humanity. But, unfortunately, this is not a scientifically proven reason for the increase in autism. That is, everyone understands everything, but there is no official proof. Therefore, autism is considered to be an unknown disease. This is the official position of science. nine0003

- The number of people with autism will continue to grow naturally if the reasons are what you are talking about?

Moreover, I can say that before the advent of the coronavirus, which, of course, drew attention to itself for obvious reasons, autism was considered one of the biggest problems of mankind. It remains one of the main ones, because, of course, there are "light" people with autism who need a little help - and they adapt, but there are also "severe" ones - and a system of continuous support for these people is needed. According to international data, about 60% of children with severe autism who run and do not speak in childhood, if everything is done with them correctly, will become ordinary people. nine0003

And if you do nothing - just give them pills and not touch them - then 100% of them will be severe mentally disabled so that they live all their lives in comfortable conditions, in normal human families. This is also possible.

- Where is it better for children with autism to be among children with the same diagnosis or among those who do not?

At preschool age it is very important that a child with autism is in a normal environment. The ideal option for him is to go somewhere to classes and to an ordinary kindergarten, even if he runs, screams and does not talk at the same time. Not even the most brilliant teacher can teach a child childish behavior - this can only be learned from other children. Therefore, if children with autism are among their own kind, then they will learn from each other. nine0003

And if they are among ordinary children, they absorb what they observe in other children. Therefore, I am categorically against correctional kindergartens

But when it comes to school, everything is very individual here. Still, it is important to acquire academic knowledge in school. Children with ASD are very different. If a child has such autism that he does not understand what is happening in the general education class of the school, if he just sits in this class, it will be bad both for him, because he will feel like a fool, and for the others, because he will distract and interfere. nine0003

Therefore, if inclusion is possible for 100% of children with autism before school, then at school age each child needs to choose the form of education where he or she will be better off. A child can also go to a remedial class if he learns better there, but his need to communicate with ordinary people will not go anywhere - which means that he must, in parallel with this remedial class, where he learns mathematics and Russian, go to circles, sections, studios, where he will be among ordinary people. And for this it is necessary to train the leaders of these circles and sections. What Our Sunny World has been doing for many years. nine0003 Photo: Shutterstock / Dubova

- What should everyone know about people with autism? Can we help a child or adult with ASD on the street or in a public place if we think they need help? Or will an attempt to help from a stranger, on the contrary, do harm?

Autism is called "invisible disability" all over the world. This is a big problem, because when a child is in a stroller, no one requires him to run; when he is wearing black glasses and with a white cane - no one is surprised that he does not see; but when an ordinary-looking child, due to the fact that, for example, there are a lot of people around, suddenly starts screaming and jumping, then they immediately make demands on him as if he were an ordinary child, such as "Pull yourself together!" and "How are you behaving?", they begin to scold their mother. But in fact, he has the same disability as a child in a wheelchair, who simply cannot physically get up and run. nine0003

A blind child, too, unfortunately, cannot immediately stop fooling around and start seeing.

A child with autism cannot "pull himself together" because autism is a problem of interaction with the outside world, a problem of self-regulation. He feels very uncomfortable and not from a good life behaves badly, runs and screams.

Therefore, the main thing that the average person should understand is that a child with autism is just as disabled as any other person with a disability. We have this term a little offensive, and because of this, parents often say: "Let's not call autism a disease - we will say that this is such a feature of development." In fact, of course, this is a disease, but you can not say this word if it hurts someone. But one must understand that this condition is disabling, that is, it needs additional conditions. A person in a wheelchair needs a ramp to move around, a blind person needs navigation lanes on the streets, and a child with autism needs an understanding of the people around to be functional. nine0003

A person with autism can behave strangely - and a child in the sandbox or in line, sometimes an adult: there are adults who outwardly do not differ from the rest, except that they are a little squeezed, but suddenly at some point they start screaming, beating themselves on the head, sway, get nervous.

People, as a rule, shy away, believing that this is some kind of violent variant of schizophrenia and now he will rush at others, but people with autism just don’t rush, they just feel bad

So, if this is an adult, don’t interfere to him. Leave him alone and let him recover. After a while, you can gently ask: “Do you need help?” If he tells you that he needs help, then help, if not, do not insist. Don't hug or touch him, because people with autism have difficulty with this - tactile sensations add to their problems. nine0003

If we are talking about a child, then a child who can begin to behave like this will never be alone on the street, he will always be with his parents, because parents will never let a difficult child go alone. So what should be done? Nothing. We need to step aside and give parents the opportunity to resolve this situation.

Sometimes a child knows that his mother will still not be able to calm him down, and since mothers are very afraid of censure (parents of children with autism constantly hear from all sides that they have dismissed their children and much more), they sometimes, it happens, pretend that they are not with this child at all. He just walks by and that's it. Screams and screams. Mom doesn't react at all. In this case, too, there is no need to react in any way if he does not interfere with others. If he pushes other children, then you can come up and gently ask - who is this boy with? If there is a mother nearby who says: “With me,” then you can ask: “Can I help you with something?” If she says, “Don't,” then you need to protect other children. Understand - you will not be able to reason with him. When an ordinary child indulges, you can tell him: “Stop it!” And for a child with autism to say: “Stop it!” - it's like saying to a child in a wheelchair: "Stop fooling around, get up and go. " nine0003

- So the main advice is not to climb? Naturally, do not make any remarks to your mother, do not try to draw her attention to what is happening?

She will figure it out herself. You can ask if you need help, but not immediately, not from the first moment. There are situations: a child is 15 years old, he is large, he is torn somewhere, and his mother drags him, holds him, does not let him go. For example, he wants to run into the store and grab something, and she holds him. If you see that she is having a hard time, you can delicately ask: “Can I help you?” Sometimes a child, seeing that someone has come to help his mother, immediately calms down. But you can also do harm, so you should always ask your mother. In general, you should always ask your parents what to do, not to do, to help, not to help. nine0003

The most important thing is to always treat a child with problematic behavior not as ill-mannered, but as a child with exactly the same form of disability as a wheelchair user or a blind person. Just understand it.

- If a child with ASD goes to a regular class, attends clubs, goes on excursions, that is, is sufficiently adapted, are there any features that other children and adults should know about, any rules that should be followed?

Adults definitely do not need to look into the eyes, do not hug, do not touch once again, sometimes you have to wait for an answer longer than when interacting with another person. nine0003

In the case of children, the key should be not to separate people into healthy and sick people. This is the main thing. Any person needs respect and understanding. Therefore, the best thing that people who are around people with autism can do is treat them as if they were themselves: calmly, with respect and attention. And if this is the case, then nothing else is required, no special knowledge is needed. On the contrary, the fact that they are singled out sometimes offends them very much.

A child with a severe form of autism will not notice, but with a mild one, he will notice that the girl teacher came up and said: “Hello, guys! Hello boy! - separately to this boy, because she sees that he is somehow "not like that. " Or: “So, guys, quickly everyone took the textbooks and moved them to the next room. And you too, boy, if it’s not difficult for you, you can take the textbook and move it to another room.” Under no circumstances should this be done. nine0003

Don't expect or demand from him what he can't do, just be more attentive to people. This is our main recommendation to those who work with children

We, for example, train museum specialists. A group came on an excursion, there were ten children in it, one of them with autism. The guide sees: most of the children do not listen and fool around in an understandable way, that is, they do not look at the pictures, chat, chew gum, the boy shows the girl something on the phone, do not listen to the guide, three excellent students listen, wide-eyed, and one a boy who even seems to be listening to the guide, but at the same time sways strangely and sometimes waving his hands in front of his eyes. The guide must understand that this is a person with developmental disabilities and, telling everyone, maybe you need to repeat once again for this boy, maybe you need to take a position next to him so that he can hear exactly, so that it is not too intrusive, but not too quiet, but at the same time do not single it out and do not say that "now let's go to the next room, and you, boy, too.

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