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Common Characteristics

Autism manifests in millions of people across the world in countless ways. It’s not as simple as having one or two of the things off the list below and assuming you are Autistic. Nor is it fair to say that people on the Autism Spectrum will identify with all of these traits. They are simply common traits and differences of those on the Autism Spectrum, as we will continue to emphasise on the site, the condition affects people to varying degrees in varying ways.

Social Interaction

  1. Avoiding eye contact
  2. Differences reading or displaying emotions
  3. Preference for own company/spending majority of time alone
  4. Challenges with the ability to read social cues, find difficult to initiate, maintain or conclude conversation
  5. Difficulty with turn-taking in conversation – tendency to speak only about own interests, not answer questions or interrupt
  6. Difficulty with interacting with people on a group basis. Discomfort in social gatherings such as parties
  7. Tendency to socialise through interests i.e. membership of a club
  8. Need for consistency in social situations i.e. games must always be played by the same rules, inability to cope with unexpected events in a social situation (person arriving who was not expected), learning some lines of conversation which can be inserted into specific social situation.

Communication

  1. Either pre-verbal, limited verbal or highly verbal
  2. Problems with word finding
  3. Unusual use of words/different understanding of vocabulary
  4. Tendency to take phrases/idioms literally
  5. Tendency to speak in monotone tone of voice or an unusual accent/voice experimentation
  6. May not use or understand facial expressions
  7. May not use or conform to basic sense of humour
  8. Find it difficult to articulate frustrations/causes of upset

Behaviour

  1.  Requires routine and certainty in day-to-day life – can become distressed at breakdown in routine
  2. May have “meltdowns” if routine is disrupted, surroundings are difficult or if they are struggling to communicate their frustrations
  3. Unconventional play – collecting objects, sorting, colour coding or lining up are classic examples. (Need for predictability)
  4. Determination to win or come 1st in games. Habit of interrupting others’ turns.
  5. May have a special interest or obsessive topic to which they wish to study, talk about, play with all the time (Social Interactions)
  6. Daydreaming or floating/walking around without purpose
  7. May be very hyperactive
  8. Tendency to run, jump, move erratically or flap hands (linked to sensory processing)

Sensory Processing

  1.  Struggle with/cannot bear certain sounds, smells or textures. Equally may be attracted to others and may have favourite texture, sound, smell. May eat only very specific food.
  2. Find open spaces hard to process. Manage better in enclosed surroundings
  3. May use voice experimentation
  4. High pain threshold

Experience of other traits? Share them with us!

Strengths: While this list is by no means universal and will vary depending on the person, autistic people often display the following characteristics.

  1. Intense and highly focused interests which can be channeled into lifelong passions such as music, drawing or environmentalism
  2. Detail oriented
  3. Intense focus when engaged in a task
  4. Strong memory
  5. Honesty
  6. Loyalty
Can this be improved? Contact webeditor@asiam.ie if you have any suggestions for this article.
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