Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)


Condition Description

Autistic Spectrum Disorder is an umbrella term used to describe an array of sensory and social difficulties. Autism is a condition that is termed under the Autistic Spectrum Disorder and directly affects how children perceive the world around them, often children with autism struggle to engage socially, make friends and understand non-verbal communication. An occupational therapist can provide effective treatment and therapy aimed at improving social function and managing some.

Does your child have any of the following difficulties?

Autism is what’s known as a ‘spectrum’ disorder, affecting different children in different ways. Children with autism are extremely unique and may experience few or many of the common symptoms below.

  • Struggles to understand body language
  • Finds social situations daunting or unusual
  • Prefers things to be organized or done a certain way and becomes agitated to change
  • Has difficulty organizing and planning for school work
  • Doesn’t have many friends at school
  • Dislikes change in routine and become upset if sudden changes occur
  • Christmas and other holidays are unnerving for your child
  • Takes pictures and phrases too literally
  • Needs to know an exact plan of the day’s events and gets upset if things change unexpectedly
  • Dislikes meeting new people
  • Little or no awareness of danger
  • Occasionally runs away from home or school or when out in the community
  • Distracted by blinds or enjoys moving the head to create flickering sunlight
  • Finds patterned carpets or floors confusing to navigate across

It is also common for a child within the autistic spectrum to be either over-reactive to sensory responses (hypersensitive) or under-reactive (hypersensitive) alongside the usual symptoms above. It is likely that your child will experience just one type of sensory response to light, heat, sound smell or taste. However, it could be that your child is hypersensitive to light but hypersensitive to touch.

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    • Finds normal background sounds unbearably loud or distracting
    • Over-sensitive to heat, light, sounds, or smells
    • Prefers to focus on the detail rather than the whole
    • Distorted vision, objects, and bright lights can appear to jump around
    • Likes spicy food
    • Eats everything (grass, soil, play-dough, etc.)
    • Touch can be painful or uncomfortable
    • Dislikes wearing shoes, socks, or gloves
    • Struggles with activities like sport
    • Difficulty stopping quickly or movements overflow
    • Poor fine motor skills
    • Moves whole body to look at something


    • Holds others tightly
    • High pain threshold
    • A central object is magnified but things on the periphery are blurred
    • Poor throwing or catching (depth perception)
    • Under-sensitive to heat, may not recognize when an object is too hot
    • Poor sense of smell, fail to notice own body odor
    • Dislikes people with distinct perfumes
    • Enjoys rocking and spinning around at a fast pace
    • Bumps into people/objects often
    • Stands too close to others
    • Finds it hard to navigate rooms
    • Simple and effective

    How can difficulties experienced by children with autism impact function and routine?

    Autism can have a profound effect on a child’s routine. The simple tasks that every day involves are difficult and require a high level of attention and effort. Some of the common difficulties that children with autism experience are listed below:


    • Difficulty understanding instructions
    • Can be overwhelmed by the smell of dinner cooking
    • Becomes easily upset if surroundings change (on holidays or if new furniture arrives)
    • Having guests over can be difficult
    • Changing perfume or washing powder can result in the child becoming agitated
    • Difficulty sleeping in the early hours of the morning when the sun rises through the curtains