Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is
neurological in nature and affects the brain in four major areas:
2. social skills
3. sensory systems
The cause remains a mystery but may be triggered by a combination of genetics and environmental insults. Autism is a spectrum with varying amounts of “severity.” A combination of therapies that address the four major areas is considered to be best practice treatment.
Professionals that are often involved are psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, pediatricians, educational assistants, integrative assistants and behaviour analysts/therapists.
How Can I Help?
1. Try to identify and eliminate sensory triggers such as sound, light, texture, etc. Don’t require eye contact. Don’t require body contact.
2. People on the Autism Spectrum often have high anxiety. Try to ease it for them.
3. Use concrete language instead of abstract. (“Please stop banging your head and stomping your feet,” instead of “Calm down!”)
4. Clearly explain how you feel. Teach emotions language words.
5. Refer to professionals that understand and can help. (Autism Yukon is a great start!)
6. Help with executive functioning. (Schedules, planning, executing plans, making outlines, understanding the passage of time, etc.)
7. Ask the individual what he/she things that he/she needs.
8. Be patient. Understand that, even if some behaviours seem strange, the person is probably trying to calm or to help him/herself.
9. Remember, the greatest problem that people with autism face is discrimination.