A.S.D. Autism Spectrum Disorders

 

Autism and Asperger Syndrome are both on the same spectrum. People with these conditions will suffer mildly, more severely or very severely from them.

 

Autism and Asperger Syndrome (from now on referred to as ‘AA’) should not be looked upon as an illness but as a condition or disability. Most children and adults with it just want to be accepted for what they are and not for the label they carry.

 

The manner in which the condition manifests itself will be unique to each person, each individual presenting problems unique to themselves. Because of this, two students with ‘AA’ will not behave in the same manner.

 

In general terms students or adults with AA will have problems with:

  1. Social Interaction.
  2. They may show a tendency to have repetitive traits in their behaviour.
  3. Some may have communication problems.

 

These symptoms will vary depending on where they have been assessed on the Autism Spectrum.

 

Someone with a mild or High Functioning assessment will present relatively mild symptoms and enable them to lead a high functioning lifestyle. While others further along the spectrum will have more severe problems and are more likely to have accompanying medical conditions.

 

Autism is a lifelong condition but therapies, such as dance, can reduce symptoms and increase skills, giving the student greater confidence in themselves as a person.  Many students with ‘AA’ will have a specific talent and really excel in that particular area.

 

What to look for:

In class or examination, look for the child who glazes over and looks detached, they often find difficulty in reading facial expressions or gestures such as a smile, frown or harsh word. They misunderstand body language and tone of voice making responding correctly difficult.

 

Often a young pre-school child may have a delay in speaking, though most will develop the ability to speak. Some with very mild problems may even be very precocious with regards language, be very talkative and have large vocabularies. Some students may have a very high pitched voice or a monotone robot like voice, this can make it difficult to understand feelings and frustrations but most with mild symptoms will communicate quite well.

 

When training a child/adult with ‘AA’ it is very important to have consistency in environment, i.e. using the same studio and teacher each week, slight changes can be very stressful to anyone with anything other than mild symptoms.

 

The IDTA Classwork Assessments, Rosette and Stardance Awards are ideal for most students with ‘AA’ though some with very mild symptoms may be able to enter for Graded examinations and Medals.

 

If the teacher is aware that a child/adult is suffering from ‘AA’ when entering them for an examination, then a Reasonable Adjustment form must be filled out. Also, if the teacher is aware that the child/adult has a specific problem, then it needs to be noted on the form to give the examiner this information before he/she arrives to conduct the session.

 

Further information can be obtained from;

www.nhs.uk/conditions/autistic-spectrum-disorder

www.autisimspeaks.org

 

Bobbie Drakeford