Autism is characterised by marked difficulties in behaviour, social interaction, communication and sensory sensitivities. With this article, we take a closer and meticulous look at some of the personality traits exhibited by an Autistic child.
- Behavioural Pattern
The behavioural pattern of autistic children reflects their response to the changing environment. People with ASD tend to have to repetitive behaviours and stick to rigid routines because this way they are able to somehow reduce the effect of the mercurial surroundings. Their behaviour is generally an attempt by them to communicate their feelings or to cope with a situation. Behaviour problems may occur as the result of their heightened sensitivity to a sound or something they may have seen or felt.
Behaviours may include:
•Unusually intense or focused interests.
•Repetitive use of objects.
•Rigid routines such as travelling the same route home each day and doing things in exactly the same order every time.
•Unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or staring intently at moving objects.
•Peculiar voice characteristics (flat monotone or high pitch).
•Does not respond to noise or name.
•Becomes hyperactive or totally nonresponsive in noisy or very bright environments.
•Difficult to calm down when sensitive.
•Very little or no eye contact.
•Gives spontaneous comments which seem to have no connection to the current conversation.
•Unaware of/disinterested in what is going on around them.
•Talks excessively about one or two topics (dinosaurs, movies, etc.).
•Overly trusting or unable to read the motives behinds peoples’ actions.
•Minimal acknowledgement of others.
- Social Interaction and Communication
People with autism have difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships. They do not respond to many of the non-verbal forms of communication like facial expressions, physical gestures and eye contact. They are often unable to understand and express their needs just as they are unable to interpret and understand the needs of others. This impairs their ability to share interests and activities with other people. For this reason they may appear distant and aloof. Because they are often delayed in their speech and struggle to make sense of other non-verbal forms of communication, they may withdraw into repetitive play and behaviour and avoid interaction.
There are some people with autism who speak fluently, others who are speech impaired to varying degrees and others still, who are unable to speak at all. Of those who can speak, they will often use language in a very limited or unusual way.
Their line of conversation may involve repeating your phrases or words back to you or asking the same questions over and over. People with autism usually only talk about topics that are of interest to them which makes the communication difficult.
Difficulty in communication may be characterised by:
•Limited use and understanding of non-verbal communication such as eye gaze, facial expression and gesture.
•Difficulties forming and sustaining friendships.
•Lack of seeking to share enjoyment, interests and activities with other people.
•Difficulties with social and emotional responsiveness.
•Delayed language development.
•Difficulties initiating and sustaining conversations.
•Stereotyped and repetitive use of language such as repeating phrases from television.
•As a baby, does not reach out to be held by mother or seek cuddling..
•Prefers to be alone. Has an aloof manner
•Little or no eye contact.
•Develops an alternative method of communication such as pointing and gesturing.
•Speaks on very narrowly focused topics.
•Difficulty in talking about abstract concepts.
•Resistance to being held or touched.
•Responds to social interactions, but does not initiate them.
•Does not generally share observations or experiences with others.
•Difficulty understanding jokes, figures of speech or sarcasm.
•Difficulty reading facial expressions and body language.
•Difficulty understanding the rules of conversation.
•Difficulty understanding group interactions.
•Unable to understand another’s feelings.
However, people with ASD tend to develop a strong bond with people who are close to them, e.g. relatives, teachers, etc. They, especially share a strong connection to their parents and grandparents, even though they may not always be able to articulate it.
Children and adults with ASD are described as reluctant to make changes to their routines with their tending to treat social communications with no greater – and often less – priority than they do asocial stimuli. Even when an interest in social interaction exists, individuals with ASD may lack the requisite skills to make a social encounter successful.
The debilitating interpersonal impairments experienced by individuals with ASD are assumed to result from neurocognitive impairment in the basic motivation and ability to understand people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviours – perhaps even their own.
Given the unique characteristics of individuals with ASD, it may be expected that their personality profile – that is, the distinct set of traits characterizing their typical patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving – would be quite different from the modal personality profile of individuals without ASD.