Perth Autism Counselling
Perth Asperger’s Counselling
Autism spectrum disorder, which is often referred to as ASD, is the term used to describe a group of disorders that includes Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (also known as atypical autism). Autism is the most commonly occurring form of ASD.
What difficulties do individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder experience?
Children and adults with ASD have difficulties that are usually grouped into three areas.
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
Communication skills vary depending on the intellectual and social development of the individual child or adult. Those that do have speech difficulty often find it difficult to communicate effectively.
For example, a person with ASD may say odd and inappropriate things, repeat verbal statements made by another person, talk about one specific topic for long periods of time with no awareness that others have lost interest, or say things that are not relevant to the current conversation. The unusual communication style of those with ASD can sometimes lead to children and adults with ASD being the victims of bullying.
- Social awareness and interaction
Children and adults with ASD often have difficulty following social rules, which may make them appear unfriendly. For example, they tend to avoid looking at the person talking and do not appear to be listening. When interacting with others, those with ASD may not follow common social behaviours. For example, they may touch and even lick others, or make blunt and impolite comments.
- Activities and interests
Children with ASD rarely play games or engage in imaginative play (e.g., playing make believe). Instead, they may use toys and other objects in different ways (e.g., lining up objects, spinning and flicking objects). They can become obsessed with an item such as a piece of string or a pencil and carry it around constantly, and may collect objects (e.g., stones, sticks, batteries). Both children and adults with ASD may also be more sensitive to touch and the taste or texture of some foods. Examples of this include rejecting a family member trying to give them a cuddle or insisting that all labels are cut off their clothes because the touch of them on their skin is unbearable. Some people with ASD may also act as if they are insensitive to pain or changes in temperature so they may put their hand directly into a flame. They also dislike change and being in new situations. They may also show odd behaviour such as acting as if other people don’t exist, or doing things that cause them injury. Examples include repetitive hand-flapping, spinning, rocking, walking on their toes and biting themselves. Behavioural problems including temper tantrums and aggression are also common.
Valuable Tips from our Counsellors to help Individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder
The age of the person, and the severity of their difficulties are both important factors to consider when deciding on what can help. Below are some strategies that can be put in place to assist parents and other carers of people with ASD.
- Provide a reasonable level of daily structure through the use of a daily or weekly diary and prepare the person for any changes to their routine. When a significant change is going to happen, spend time prior to the event talking to the child or adult about what is going to happen and ensure that they have support to manage any anxiety. This may help them cope with change more easily.
- Give a step-by-step list of instructions for completing everyday activities, such as getting ready for school or taking a shower. A wall chart with pictures illustrating each step can be a good way to present this information. This can be helpful for higher functioning children and adults.
- Develop a regular routine for the day including set times for meals, activities and sleep. Once a routine is in place, avoid changing it if possible. Children and adults with ASD can become extremely upset if their routine is changed.
- Provide instructions in simple language allowing time for the individual to absorb the information and respond. Try not to use phrases such as “pull your socks up” or “it’s raining cats and dogs” because people with ASD often take things literally. If an appropriate response is not given it is helpful to check that the person has understood.
- Provide visual cues such as pictures or a story outline to support communication. For example, when giving instructions or setting up a daily diary use pictures to demonstrate tasks and to help understanding.
- Teach and practice social ‘rules’ such as turn-taking and how to greet people, and provide opportunities for the individual to interact with others. Strategies such as role-plays can be a useful way of helping the person to learn new social skills.
- Seek help when family issues arise. Raising a child or supporting an adult with ASD can be difficult and stressful. Seeking counselling can significantly improve outcomes for both the person with ASD and those around them.