Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication, and behavioral challenges. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment that people with ASD can have. ASD affects people in different ways and can range from mild to severe. People with ASD share some symptoms, such as difficulties with social interaction, but there are differences in when the symptoms start, how severe they are, the number of symptoms, and whether other problems are present. The symptoms and their severity can change over time. The signs of ASD begin in early childhood, usually in the first 2 years of life, although a small minority of children may show hints of future problems within the first year of life.
Some autistic children are delayed in their use of language and some autistic adults don’t use speech. In those cases, other methods of communication need to be established. The person may appear not to hear what you say to them, not respond to their name, or appear indifferent to any attempts you make to communicate.
They may use some of the following to communicate with you
- Taking your hand to the object they want
- Looking at the object they want
- Using pictures
- Challenging behaviour
- Echolalia (the repetition of other people’s words).
The picture exchange system (PECS) is a form of spontaneous communication for children with autism in which an individual selects a picture indicating a request. PECS can be utilized in educational settings and at the child’s home.