Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are characterized by social-interaction difficulties, communication challenges and a tendency to engage in repetitive behaviors. However, symptoms and their severity vary widely across these three core areas. Taken together, they may result in relatively mild challenges for someone on the high functioning end of the autism spectrum. For others, symptoms may be more severe, as when repetitive behaviors and lack of spoken language interfere with everyday life.
One day my mom was picking me up from school, and I was like 4-year-old at the time. When she asked me how school went I said something completely different from what she originally thought that I was gonna say. That’s when my mom knew that there was something different about me.
My mom took me to the regional center and I was diagnosed with PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified). It is now called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
I was not the best student when I was in school. I was way behind than most of the kids in my grade. I had really bad communication skills when I was in school and I also had and IEP. I also didn’t have a lot of friends growing up cause of my lack of communication.
By age three, most children have passed predictable milestones on the path to learning language. One of the earliest is babbling. By the first birthday, most typically developing toddlers say a word or two, turn and look when they hear their names, point to objects they want or want to show to someone (not all cultures use pointing in this way). When offered something distasteful, they can make clear – by sound or expression – that the answer is “no.”
By contrast, young children with autism tend to be delayed in babbling and speaking and learning to use gestures. Some infants who later develop autism coo and babble during the first few months of life before losing these communicative behaviors. Others experience significant language delays and don’t begin to speak until much later. With therapy, however, most people with autism do learn to use spoken language and all can learn to communicate.
Some mildly affected children exhibit only slight delays in language or even develop precocious language and unusually large vocabularies – yet have difficulty sustaining a conversation. Some children and adults with autism tend to carry on monologues on a favorite subject, giving others little chance to comment. In other words, the ordinary “give and take” of conversation proves difficult. Some children with ASD with superior language skills tend to speak like little professors, failing to pick up on the “kid-speak” that’s common among their peers.
Another common difficulty is the inability to understand body language, tone of voice and expressions that aren’t meant to be taken literally. For example, even an adult with autism might interpret a sarcastic “Oh, that’s just great!” as meaning it really is great.
Conversely, someone affected by autism may not exhibit typical body language. Facial expressions, movements and gestures may not match what they are saying. Their tone of voice may fail to reflect their feelings. Some use a high-pitched sing-song or a flat, robot-like voice. This can make it difficult for others know what they want and need. This failed communication, in turn, can lead to frustration and inappropriate behavior (such as screaming or grabbing) on the part of the person with autism. Fortunately, there are proven methods for helping children and adults with autism learn better ways to express their needs. As the person with autism learns to communicate what he or she wants, challenging behaviors often subside.
What is an IEP?
A federal law called the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that public schools create an IEP for every child receiving special education services. Kids from age 3 through high school graduation or a maximum age of 22 (whichever comes first) may be eligible for an IEP.
The IEP is meant to address each child’s unique learning issues and include specific educational goals. It is a legally binding document. The school must provide everything it promises in the IEP.
- A statement of your child’s present level of performance (PLOP)—this is how your child is doing in school now
- Your child’s annual educational goals
- Special education supports and services that the school will provide to help your child reach goals
- Modifications and accommodations the school will provide to help your child make progress
- Accommodations your child will be allowed when taking standardized tests
- How and when the school will measure your child’s progress toward annual goals
- Transition planning that prepares teens for life after high school
Since I was diagnosed with Autism I had a lot of problems with sensory. I will have sensory problems by just wearing jewelery. There will be a lot of time where I won’t let people touch me because of sensory. I know that it’s weird but it’s just who I am.
Sensory Processing Problems
Many persons with autism have unusual responses to sensory input. They have difficulty processing and integrating sensory information, or stimuli, such as sights, sounds smells, tastes and/or movement. They may experience seemingly ordinary stimuli as painful, unpleasant or confusing.
Some of those with autism are hypersensitive to sounds or touch, a condition also known as sensory defensiveness. Others are under-responsive, or hyposensitive. An example of hypersensitivity would be the inability to tolerate wearing clothing, being touched or being in a room with normal lighting. Hyposensitivity can include failure to respond when one’s name is called. Many sensory processing problems can be addressed with occupational therapy and/or sensory integration therapy.
No matter how many times that people say that I’m different. Different is always a good thing. And don’t let other people bring you down and keep your head up high. Autism or not. Nobody was born 100% perfect.