Having an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) means that the person has a different way of understanding other people and the world around them. ASC is a lifelong developmental disorder, not an illness or a disease so there is no ‘cure’ but there are many ways that difficulties can be managed.
Here are some of the things you might see, in various combinations and from mild to severe, in people who have ASC:
Difficulties with communication
Such as; taking what people say literally (thinking people mean exactly what they say), not understanding jokes or sarcasm and preferring facts and logic, finding it hard to understand facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures. Sometimes people with autism only feel comfortable when talking about topics they are interested in and can be repetitive in what they say.
Difficulties with interaction and socialising with other people
Such as; not wanting to make eye contact, feeing awkward and not knowing what to say or do in social situations, difficulties making and keeping friends and romantic relationships, preferring to be alone and only doing activities they feel comfortable to do, finding it hard to take turns when playing games, not liking to be touched or comforted by other people and difficulty with seeing things from other people’s point of view.
Difficulties with imagination
People with ASC can struggle with make believe play or storytelling. It can also be hard to imagine what other people might be thinking or feeling.
Many people with ASC have special interests that they invest their time and energy into; becoming very knowledgeable about the topic and spending a lot of time involved in the topic.
People with ASC may be overly sensitive to sounds, smells, touch, pain or light, finding these things uncomfortable, frightening or painful. Some people do not appear sensitive to these things at all.
People with ASC can find change and transition (going from one thing to another) hard so they prefer familiar and strict routines.
These differences that people with ASC may experience can make everyday life overwhelming. Often people can feel worried and stressed by everyday activities such as going to school, meeting people and trying new things.
The difficulties people with ASC experience with social communication and interaction and the differences in their interests, strengths and talents can mean they feel left out and misunderstood by other people, which can lead to problems with low mood and low self- esteem.
It is common for people with eating difficulties to see that there is a real problem. You may not understand why others are concerned or you might disagree that there is a problem altogether. This may make you feel angry and frustrated.
It is important to understand that people with ASC are individuals with thoughts and feelings, talents and strengths just like those without ASC. They deserve the same level of love, care and respect. ASC is relatively common and it is likely that you know someone who has ASC. People who have ASC may experience the difficulties outlined above in different ways and to different levels. It is important you get to know the individual in order to best help and support them. If you have ASC, it can be helpful to let people know what you find hard so they know how best to help and support you.
As everyday life activities can be challenging and cause stress and anxiety, some people find it helpful to learn ways of managing their anxiety. Check the help sections ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Depression’ for top tips, websites and apps.
If you have a diagnosis of ASC or you are waiting for an assessment to see whether you have ASC, it can be helpful for you and the people who support you to use the techniques and strategies known to help people with ASC manage the difficulties they are experiencing. Click on the website and video links below for more information, advice and support.
What's Eating You?
A Workbook for Teens With Anorexia, Bulimia, & Other Eating Disorders: A Workbook for Teens with Anorexia, Bulimia, and Other Eating Disorders by Tammy Nelson.
Body Image Workbook for Teens
Activities to Help Girls Develop a Healthy Body Image in an Image-Obsessed World by Julia Taylor.
Getting Over Overeating for Teens
A Workbook to Transform Your Relationship with Food Using CBT, Mindfulness, and Intuitive Eating by Andrea Watcher.
Self-Esteem Workbook for Teens
Activities to Help You Build Confidence and Achieve Your Goals by Lisa Scab.
My Experience at CAMHS
My Experience at CAMHS