“For autistic individuals to succeed in this world, they need to find their strengths and the people that will help them get to their hopes and dreams. In order to do so, ability to make and keep friends is a must. Among those friends, there must be mentors to show them the way. A supportive environment where they can learn from their mistakes is what we as a society needs to create for them.” – Quote by Bill Wong, Autistic Occupational Therapist.
Little Patrick Delemos age 5 and living with his family in Michigan State would frequently bang his head on the wall when agitated and angry when he would not get his way. This greatly upset that his family who were severely traumatized by the behavior. This is an example of the many challenges caregivers face when dealing with people with ASD.
Children and adults with ASD exhibit a range of behaviors which their family members, friends and caregivers find challenging and at times difficult to deal with. These behaviors vary according to the severity of the condition, age, and environmental factors. These challenges can be managed through the help of professionals such as BCBAs during therapy which is an ongoing and continuous process. Here we look at the challenges in-depth for a better understanding.
The four areas of challenges which people with ASD exhibit are:
Aggression and self-harm: A large chunk of individuals with ASD indulge in self-harm of varying degrees as well as display aggressive behavior to those around them. These have profound impacts on their physical well-being, developmental outcomes as well as the overall quality of life. Watching a loved one harm themselves can be scary as well as overwhelming to family members and caregivers. Young children bang their heads during an outburst or when distressed. There are a number of reasons for them to do so such as the feeling of helplessness, being unwell, or being reprimanded.
Social and communication issues: Each person with ASD being unique demonstrates their own set of symptoms such as some can speak well. Others can’t speak at all or only very little. According to the CDC, about *40% of children with an ASD do not talk at all. Children use different ways to communicate needs and wants. Some people say only one word at a time. Others repeat the same words or phrases over and over. They are also not good at social skills, don’t interact much with others and some prefer their own company. There is no fixed pattern of behavior. They tend to miss out on non-verbal cues that neurotypical persons understand and take for granted.
Repetitive actions and behavior: Many people with autism have an overwhelming need for sameness. They stick to a routine and do not like changes of any sort. So if there is any change made to their routine, clothes, food, etc they will not take it well and it will manifest in disruptive behavior.
Psychiatric conditions: Many people with an ASD are frequently diagnosed with various comorbid psychiatric conditions such as Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder, depression, Autism & attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and schizophrenia which impact the overall well-being. Interventions by mental health professionals such as psychiatrists are useful for managing such conditions.