Autistic spectrum disorder is a life-long, non-progressive developmental disorder affecting social and communication skills. The symptoms and characteristics of autistic spectrum disorder can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe. It is defined by difficulties with social communication and social interaction, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities, or interests.
There is much confusion with the terms used to describe this condition and over the years a variety of terms have been used. The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) published in 2013 uses the term autistic spectrum disorder.
Many children and adults with autistic spectrum disorder have problems processing sensory information. This has been recognised in the diagnostic criteria in DSM-5. NICE guidelines also recognise the significant sensory difficulties in children and adults with autistic spectrum disorder. Recent research has suggested that up to 95 % of children with autistic spectrum disorder have sensory processing disorder. Temple Grandin, a woman with autistic spectrum disorder, discusses in her books her sensitivity to light touch and sounds. She tells how she used deep-pressure touch to calm and organise her nervous system and reduce her hypersensitivity to touch.
It is important to always get a thorough assessment by a therapist with the appropriate post-graduate qualifications in sensory integration to identify a sensory processing disorder.
Here are some of the possible signs commonly seen in those with autistic spectrum disorder:
“The little tasks we had to do really made me think how difficult my child might find things.Parent
“The best training I have accessed in years. Really inspiring, – we need to take what we have learned and use it to develop our practice”Specialist teacher in autism
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