This informational text was created to bring awareness and encourage acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The following narrative is included with visual supports on each page:
Autism is a disorder that affects how someone’s brain works. It impacts how a person communicates and interacts with others and the world around them.
There are many characteristics of Autism. Autism is a spectrum disorder, meaning that each person with Autism is affected differently.
Communicating with people who have Autism may be a little different, as oftentimes they have difficulty maintaining eye contact. It may seem like they are not paying attention, when really, they may just be confused or feel a bit nervous about the conversation.
Visuals, or pictures, can help those with Autism communicate. Some may use a communication device, such as an iPad or Tablet, to assist them in expressing their wants and needs.
Another common characteristic of Autism is the desire for routine. Having a predictable schedule helps ease stress and allows the person to feel a sense of control in his or her environment.
Changes in daily routine can be very stressful for people with Autism. When changes must be made, it is helpful to warn the person so they can best prepare for what will happen next.
Many people with Autism have what are called “special interests,” or an intense level of interest in something. Sometimes, these special interests are focused on common things, such as vehicles or the weather. Other times, however, they are focused on something peculiar that we may not fully understand.
People with Autism may also play with objects a little differently. Common examples include placing objects in a line or repeating the same actions over, and over again.
Playing this way may be a stress relief, as it provides the person a sense of predictability and allows him to be in control of what is coming next.
Sensory differences, or difficulty reacting to the five senses, is also common among people with Autism. They may be overly sensitive to some things, while underly sensitive to others. There is a wide range of possible triggers including: bright lights, crowded spaces, loud sounds, uncomfortable clothing, certain foods, certain smells.
“Stimming,” or repetitive body movements or movements of objects, is also a common behavior in people with Autism. Stimming behaviors look different from person to person. Some common types of stimming may include vocal sounds such as humming, repetitive speech, finger tapping, hand-flapping, jumping, rocking, or even tasting objects.
People with Autism may experience intense emotional reactions. These reactions may be due to overwhelming sensory experiences and/or made worse when the person has difficulty communicating his or her feelings.
It is important to understand that, oftentimes, these meltdowns are much different than temper tantrums, as they are beyond the person’s control.
Sensory breaks can be very beneficial. These breaks include planned activities to help children learn to calm themselves down and regulate their behaviors, making them more open to learning and socializing.
The various challenges that come with having Autism can make it difficult to learn at school. Students with Autism may work with several different adults including special education teachers and therapists who work to meet their individual learning needs.
People with Autism want to feel safe, loved, and accepted – just like you. It is important that we work together to understand their differences and accept them for the amazing people they are!