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Autistic people think, process our senses and environments, communicate, socialize, and move differently from neurotypical people.
Just like all human beings, some Autistic people need more support and some need less. Although Autistics may struggle in certain areas of our lives, we also have a lot of strengths.
Please note, this information is for educational purposes only, and is not intended to be diagnostic. I do not diagnose ADHD or Autism; this must be done by a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other medical professional. I have created a page with information to assist anyone seeking assessment and diagnosis.
Every Autistic person is different. Although we share similar traits, we will experience them differently. No two people will have the exact same definition of what autism means to them.
Autistics experience the sensory world differently from neurotypicals We often have heightened sensory perceptions, and may be incredibly sensitive to sounds, sights, tastes, smells, and physical touch. Some autistics may also be hypo-sensitive (less sensitive) in some senses and hyper-sensitive (more) in other senses.
There are many autistics who are hyper-verbal (aka talkative), who may love to socialize with others, and enjoy being with other people. There are many who are highly introverted, prefer a lot of alone time, and find too much socializing exhausting. Most are somewhere in between and our preferences vary from day to day.
Even those of us who are introverts still enjoy the company of others, but may prefer very small groups of people and dislike large groups. We may need lots of time to recharge after interacting, but still enjoy doing so upon occasion.
Many of us enjoy the company of others, but have had many negative experiences due to people being ill-informed about autism, lack of accommodation, and people not understanding that our needs are different from theirs. This may lead to avoidance, and usually leads to being much more careful about with whom we choose to spend our time.
Many autistic people move differently from neurotypicals. Whether that be our gait (the walk we walk), or the way our body responds to the environment around us. There are many co-occurring diagnoses that are common in autistics, such as hyper-mobility syndrome and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS), that impact the way our bodies move and feel.
Many autistics also engage in stimming. Stimming is self-stimulatory or self-soothing behaviour. It can be a way of self-regulating, calming anxiety, or it can be an expression of happiness. Stimming comes in many forms such as rocking, wiggling, flapping, or tapping.
As long as stimming isn't harmful, autistic people should not be prevented from stimming. Stimming can be relaxing, calming, fun, and enjoyable.
Many autistic people prefer a direct style of communication and may experience frustration when people use coded language, or do not make their intent and meaning clear.
Autism is a spectrum, but a spectrum is not a straight line from "less autistic" to "more autistic". It is also not a straight line from fewer symptoms to more symptoms.
Similarly, there is a spectrum of how much a person is able to, or wants to, speak and communicate verbally. Many autistics prefer written communication, and many rely on
—or prefer —other modes of communication, such as Augmentative Alternative Communication devices (AACs).
It is important we all respect each other's preferred methods of communication, or make attempts to compromise, so both people can communicate as effectively and comfortably as possible.
A lot of parents wonder if they should even tell their child about their diagnosis, especially if they are quite young.
While each family will have to make their own decision based on what they think is best for their child, my short answer is: yes. Absolutely, yes.
Read my article about how to explain Autism to your child.
Autistics also struggle with Executive Functioning (EF) difficulties. The EFs include inhibition (impulse control), cognitive flexibility, working memory, organization & planning, and emotional regulation.
Neurodivergent Kids Are Awesome!
A handout describing just some (of the many) positive traits of neurodivergent children.
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