There is a popular saying amongst the Autism community - “you meet one person with autism, you meet one person with autism.” And this couldn’t be truer. The autism spectrum is so wide that the level of support that an autistic person may need can vary greatly. One person may need around the clock care and support, whereas another may not need any at all. Furthermore, the amount of support and care that a person needs may change over time.
There are also lots of conditions, which are comorbid with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including ADHD, Epilepsy, Dyspraxia, anxiety and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which may also have a significant impact on day to day living.
The National Autistic Society explains that “autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the work around them.”
Asperger’s (or Asperger’s Syndrome) is a previously used diagnosis on the autism spectrum, which you may have heard of and will still come across. However, these days, Asperger’s tends to come under the umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Despite this, it remains a useful profile for many health professionals.
Those with Asperger’s tend to be diagnosed later than others on the Autism Spectrum because the characteristics of Asperger’s can be difficult to identify. A lot of people describe those with Asperger’s as having ‘high-functioning’ Autism, which is a term that some parents, understandably, find offensive.
This is because, although the characteristics of a person with Asperger’s varies from one person to another, those who are described to meet this particular profile tend not to have a learning disability. They also have an average or higher than average IQ as well as an advanced vocabulary. A lot of people with Asperger’s have a remarkable memory when it comes to specific subjects that they are interested in.
Regardless of these characteristics, people with Asperger’s can have a lot of things in common with others on the Autism Spectrum. For example:
The general consensus is that Autism and Asperger’s are one and the same, hence the umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. The difference is simply a matter of degree.
One thing is for certain, if your child has a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder or you suspect that they might be on the spectrum, early intervention is important so that you can access the right professional help to support them both at home and at school.
For further information about Autism Spectrum Disorder, you can visit the National Autistic Society.
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Swimming is a fantastic inclusive activity to do with children with special needs. It’s a great sensory experience that is good fun and has positive benefits for both physical and mental health. It is also an activity that can be done all year round and doesn’t have to be weather dependent (depending on where you choose to swim!).