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Characteristics List

Pride in their Autism

Autistics are almost always proud of their autism and how it makes them a complete and unique person.  For reference see Jim Sinclair- “Don’t Mourn for Us

Differences in communication style and  social interaction

- Autistics have difficulty interpreting non-verbal social cues such as sarcasm, eye-contact, and  facial expressions and therefore take many phrases for their base value.  This often leads to confusion in communication between “Neurotypicals” and autistics as the non-verbal cues are lost.

- Social abilities such as knowing when someone is bored and recognizing facial expressions that cue reactions that are ‘innate’ in NT’s are not automatic for Autistics.  Autistics must learn to recognize these non-verbal signs and learn what an appropriate reaction is to them.  However, this does not mean that they don’t feel emotions.

- Many autistics, especially those who are not diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, have speech difficulties.  These difficulties have a very wide range with some autistics being mute and some having no speech difficulties.  Because of this characteristic, some individuals use other methods such as computers and writing to communicate.

Unique Sensory Sensitivities (Either Hyper or Hypo)

- Autistics typically have either heightened or supressed sensations (i.e. sight, sound, taste, touch, etc.) making it difficult for them to interact with the world at times.

- Self-stimulatory behavior, also known as “stimmies” are often present in autistics.  These may be such things as rocking and tapping but may or may not be ‘repetitive’.

- Many autistics also enjoy either spinning or watching objects spin.

Repetitive or Compulsive Behaviors

- Repetitive behaviors such as hand flapping, turning on light switches, eating, compulsive research, and asked for a word or phrase repeated indefinitely are common of some autistics.

- Many autistics enjoy collecting items and lining up items.  They typically collect items such as batteries, pencils, and strings while they line up stuffed animals and toys and stack cans.

Obsessions and “Special Interests”

- Many individuals have certain subjects they talk about in excess.  Typically, they are topics such as computers, videeo games, space, anthropology, plants, linguistics, or animals

- They have a passionate focus on these topics of interest which may lead to the  mastery of certain subject material.

- Lack of interest or ‘relevance’ of some subjects may be overridden by personal passions making it difficult for some autistics to stay interested in school topics.

Need for Order and Routine

- There is comfort in the ability to predict cause and effect sequences for an autistic.  They may become extremely upset by a change in schedule.

- Follow-through is extremely important to autistics; promises become truths that are counted on.

Literal thinking/translations of meanings

- For an autistic if is important to say exactly what you mean, and mean exactly what you say.  This is because autistics do not understand sarcasm or jokes and take everything very literally.

Creativity and Intelligence

- Relating to areas of special interest, many autistics are zealously expressive in ways we may term ‘creative’, such as in the arts of painting, drawing, writing, poetry, etc.

- Some autistics have very high IQs in certain areas and low IQs in other areas.  Many of them also have great memorization skills and may have begun reading at a very early age.

Drive/determination

- Autistics have many goals and aspirations, just as NT’s do. Yet, they must overcome societal adversity in order to accomplish the things that people have been taught not to expect of them. Being able to overcome a world of prejudice is a testament to their abounding strength and willpower.

Emotional and Loving

- Despite many inaccurate declarations that autistics are not capable of sustaining loving relationships, being able to love and be cared for by someone is essential to all people, whether you are autistic or not.

- Autistics certainly feel emotions from disappointment to ecstasy, it is their interpretation or outward expression of these emotions which is sometimes skewed.

 

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