Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Asperger’s, Empathy, Hand Flapping, Obsessions, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA), Repetition, Social Skills
This information is purely to allow a reader to identify or empathise with a child’s communication challenges they may want to know a little more about. It is not intended to replace a consultation with an appropriately qualified medical practitioner. Sunflower cannot accept responsibility for any loss, damage or injury that arises from the use of this website.
The main features of ASD are problems with social communication and interaction.Some children may present Autistic traits. However, Autism is a spectrum condition (ASD) which means that while all people with Autism share certain difficulties their condition will affect them in different ways and to varying degrees from mild to moderate to severe.
Sometimes a child may seem to lose social skills that they once had. This may be a skill such as waving goodbye. People with ASD may also experience under or over-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. In addition to some of the cognitive and behavioural difficulties, many individuals with ASD have additional medical conditions such as epilepsy, sleeplessness and mental health problems.
Hand-flapping occurs when a child is happy, excited or anxious and is a form of self-stimulation.
A ‘self-stim’ is just an internal way of regulating the body. It can be done to fight boredom, anxiety or even to express excitement. We all engage in self-stimulatory behaviour - shaking our leg while sitting, twirling a pencil, and yes, even flapping our hands to express excitement. In typical developing people, this behaviour doesn't prevent us from interacting with the world around us. We can still function "normally"; we can still interact with others, engage in activities, learn from our environment, etc.
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is now considered to be part of ASD. Individuals with PDA share difficulties with others on the autistic spectrum in social aspects of interaction, communication and imagination. However, the central difficulty for people with PDA is the way they are driven to avoid demands and expectations. This is because they have an anxiety based need to be in control.
People with PDA seem to have a better social understanding and communication skills than others on the spectrum and can use this to their advantage.
The main features of PDA are:
People with PDA can be controlling and dominating, especially when they feel anxious. However, they can be enigmatic and charming when they feel secure and in control. Many parents describe their child with PDA as a ‘Jekyll and Hyde’ character. Repetitive behaviour may also include the use of an object, such as flicking a rubber band or twirling a piece of string or repetitive activities involving the senses (such as repeatedly feeling a particular texture).
For people with Autism, however, self-stimulatory behaviour becomes their focus; whatever satisfaction they are gaining from the stim, it is far greater than anything the outside world can give them. This behaviour is often very repetitive and is difficult to stop without intervention.
If your child is showing signs of communication difficulty, you should seek the advice of a doctor or other suitably qualified professional.
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