What is Autism?
Autism, is a developmental disability which affects the way people interact with other people and how they perceive the world around them; it last for life. Those who have autism see, hear and feel the world around them differently to others. Autism isn’t a disease or illness with a cure and it carries on being a part of someone’s life as part of their identity all the way through.
Autism is what is known as a spectrum condition, this means that all autistic people share specific difficulties, but autism will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning difficulties, issues with mental health or a range of other conditions – as such people require different levels and forms of support. Autistic people learn and develop at different rates, and with the right help can live a fulfilling life in a way that suits them.
It’s thought around 700,000 people in the UK suffer from autism – over 1 in 100 people. All nationalities and cultures can be affected; as well as those from a wide variety of social and religious backgrounds. Research has showed that more males than females suffer with autism.
Signs of Autism
There are a range of signs of autism, and although different people have characteristics which vary usually there are some areas which are common. They fall into a few key areas:
- Difficulties with social interaction – a difficulty in reading people and understanding or recognising their feelings and intentions alongside struggling to express their own emotions. Often those with autism seem insensitive, seek alone time if there is too much going on socially, not seeking comfort from others or potentially behaving in a way that may be seen as inappropriate. Friendship can be hard for autistic people as they often want to make friends and interact with others but are unsure how.
- Social Communication – interpreting verbal and non verbal language is another area where those with autism can suffer. Gestures and tone of voice are not picked up in the same way and spoken language is often taken literally. Autistic people often struggle with jokes and sarcasm. Some people who have autism may have limited speech or not speak at all. Often their understanding of speech is better than their own ability to express themselves. Others with autism may have good language skills, but don’t have as strong a grasp of conversations in terms of what others would expect (sometimes repeating the other person or simply talking about themselves).
- Repetition and Routine – those with autism like to have a sense of routine and structure to their lives. Be that having the same food for breakfast, or going the same way to a place. Rules are important and the idea of a change to the way autistic people behave regarding rules can often cause distress to them
- Focused interests – often those with autism will have highly focused interests, which start at a young age. It can be anything and varies greatly, from the every day hobbies to the more obscure. They can change over time throughout a person’s life. With encouragement and support, these focused interests can be used for work and meaningful occupation.
- Sensory sensitivity – those who have autism can have differing degrees of sensitivity to sensory stimulation – some may be over sensitive others may be under sensitive. This can be anything from sounds, touch, taste, pain, colours, light or temperatures. Some people may find specific sounds or weather conditions unbearable, others may have a fixation with specific lights or sounds.
Sensory Solutions that Help Coping With Autism
There is no cure for autism, instead it is best to adopt a range of approaches including sensory solutions. Having an understanding will help you be able to cope better with the situation, and applying some of the following sensory techniques will help make the person in your care with autism explore their senses better.
A profound effect can be noticed when autistic individuals regularly experience scheduled time in a multi-sensory environment. It can be said that individuals with AUT ‘live in a world of their own’. They also have difficulty with social skills and with communication. These things are common amongst those living on the autism spectrum.
Yet spending regular time in a sensory room with softened lights, projected images, fiber optics and bubble tubes in addition to digital sound and aromatherapy can filter much of the incoming extraneous sensory information allowing such individuals the ability to organize and often begin to communicate and integrate information.
Experia are the experts at providing a wide range of solutions to help a range of institutions as well as for use in an individual’s home. Our high quality sensory products and sensory rooms are carefully designed and selected to maximize the benefits of each experience and thereby reduce anxiety, extraneous movements and sensory blockage while encouraging communication, speech and socialization.
If you want to know more about how Experia can help you with your specific sensory needs, then contact us today!