People with Down’s Syndrome have a significantly higher risk of also having an Autistic Spectrum Disorder.
Autism is a developmental disability affecting a person’s ability to communicate with and to socialise with others.
There are three main areas of difficulty seen in autism:
Social Communication: This can present with limited or no verbal language, or a lack of ability to initiate or sustain conversations. Spontaneous speech may be limited or the person may repeat words or phrases they have heard others use. There may be a tendency to take things very literally or talk at length about one particular topic
Social Interaction: The person may prefer their own company to that of others and may have difficulty in understanding social cues or the feelings/motivations of others.
Social Imagination: The person might find it difficult to adapt their behaviour in different settings. Change or new experiences can be difficult to adapt to and cause anxiety, especially when they are unexpected.
Someone with autism may display the following characteristics:
- A love of routines
- Sensory sensitivity
- Special interests
- Provide a structure: daily routine use a visual timetable, this allows the child to anticipate what is expected to happen, which can reduce anxiety.
- Communication skills: use simple, clear and consistent language to maximise learning and understanding. Offer choices and respond to all attempts to communicate.
- Promote independence and self-help skills: this will improve the person’s quality of life now and later.
- Try limiting time spent in repetitive activities
Strategies that may help: ...
It is important to seek advice from specialist child or adult services if a diagnosis is required.
A diagnosis of autism with specialist post diagnostic advice is helpful to understand how a person understands the world and what type of support strategies might suit them best
What main clusters of symptoms are recognised as important for diagnosis of autism?
Social and communication impairments and repetitive stereotyped behaviour
Repetitive stereotyped behaviour