What is autism

In a nutshell

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD/Autism) is a developmental disorder that mostly affects social behavior. About 1% of the world’s population has ASD, but it depends from location to location.

Just like people without autism, are people with autism unique. There are ‘typical’ things for people with ASD like very specific interests, need for structure, difficulties with change and sensory processing problems. But as everyone is different, not all of us have difficulties with everything, but with a few of them.

Autism usually gets diagnosed at a young age (usually signs appear around the age of 4, however I belie it can be diagnosed much earlier.) This is possible because people with a relative high IQ can camouflage their autism.

The detailed explanation.

ASD is a disorder that comes in many, many forms (Like a color spectrum), everyone is different. Some are able to ‘adapt’ to the world, but some might have more trouble adapting to the real world. A lot of Neurotypicals (people without ASD) think ASD is bad (they might think we are stupid, but that is not the case as they usually excel in certain things)

This explanation is divided in multiple parts:

  • Sensory overloads
  • Special interests
  • Emotions
  • Social interaction
  • Imagination
  • Camouflaging ASD

Sensory overloads

People with ASD are usually ‘overstimulated’. This means they can’t do anything then find a way to remove or reduce the source. For example, I’m sensitive to noise, thus I carry Earplugs with me wherever I go. And when it gets too much, I put them in my ears. This is something that is not limited to sound: light, touch, smell and taste can also be overstimulated. This comes because a ‘normal’ person filters their sensory inputs, and sort of ‘ignores’ what is irrelevant. A person with ASD however, does not do that, meaning there is one big stream of information going in, and the person might not always be able to process that information, resulting in an overload.

Everyone deals with those overloads on a different way. This could be removing/limiting the source, or by stimming (stimming stands for self-stimulating behavior), which is a way people on the autism spectrum cope (this could be rocking back and forth or flapping with the hands).

Other sensory related problems could include the not-liking of certain types of clothing because of the texture, or foods because of the flavor (either being to bland, or to strong).

Emotions

This is where it gets a bit complicated, as both interpreting and expressing emotions can be difficult. So, this means that some might not be able to see if someone is angry or can’t express that they are upset themselves. This has some annoying side-effects, as they might hurt someone by saying or doing something, without even noticing. Making having a social life, a real struggle.

Explaining emotions is also difficult, I personally find it like trying to explain something that does not exists, it’s essentially just a thought, so it might not be easy to express that with just words. This also can create misunderstandings, which can have devastating results.

Social interaction / communication

Social interaction is probably the most difficult for people with ASD, this contains making friends, maintaining them. As some might not even try to make contact, but will do what is asked from them, where others do make contact themselves, but don’t do it the right way.

This makes people on the spectrum feel lonely, as they don’t have much friends, or in some cases, no friends at all.

Imagination

People with ASD either have a lot of imagination (usually paired with their ‘special interest’) or have none. The latter results in repetitive behavior, where some actions might almost become a ritual. And this makes viewing the ‘big picture’ difficult. If an image of something they know has changed, they will start re-analyzing each element individually, and then try to create one image of that. On the other, more positive side, people with ASD might see details that others might not, making (some) of them very accurate and analytic. Witch can be helpful finding a job.

Camouflaging

People on the mild-end of the autism spectrum can ‘camouflage’ their autism by copying the behavior of others. Camouflaging autism is very exhausting as it requires constant focus and attention.

Special interests

Special interests usually come in the form of objects (like plants, cars, planes, etc. ). It can be upsetting when you can not talk about the subject, as it is literally your life. This is very common amongst people with ASD, and the interest might change over time. Sometimes this also leads into a gaming obsession (although, that might sometimes be a way to escape the hard reality).

I hope this article gave you a good insight about autism. Check out the other articles for a more in-depth look.

AuthorTeam Aspie ProjectDate2019/04/02