Monday, October 15, 2007

New Website Glossary Shows Autistic Behaviors

For a disorder that I don't think I'd even heard of until I was nearly grown, diagnoses of autism have become astoundingly common. According to an article on, one out of 150 children have some form of autism. You may know a child--or several--diagnosed with the disorder.

One of my more memorable encounters with a student with autism came when I was helping in a high school special ed class. A young man with autism had been keeping busy alone with a book on tape. I went to check on him--and saw him sitting in front of the tape player without his pants on.

He wasn't able to speak, but when I asked him (calmly, I hope) about his missing trousers he showed me that he'd spilled something on them. Then he went back to his tape.

After my initial surprise, I realized that this kid saw what he'd done as perfectly logical. He'd spilled something on his pants, so he couldn't wear them anymore. He'd completely missed the social mores that require you keep your pants on at school--but in his eyes, he'd done the only logical thing.

Folks with autism may follow the rules. Their rules just leave some of the rest of us a bit baffled.

That's where the new video glossary at Autism Speaks comes in. They have videos illustrating various autistic behaviors to help people recognize them. This is potentially very helpful; articles and books with descriptions of these behaviors abound, but actually being able to see them is a completely different experience.

Critics caution that some viewers will jump to conclusions upon seeing any of these behaviors in others. It's important to leave making diagnoses to the professionals. In fact, every child is different and some of these autistic behaviors will occasionally be manifested in non-autistic children. So it's important not to appoint yourself a psychologist. But approached rationally, this new video glossary can go a long way toward educating the public about the true nature of this condition.

1 Comment:

HOWARD'S said...

Helping chidren with autism can be very difficult. Pats on the back to all the teachers and parents that handle then with love and patients! Thanks for the information about the video glossary. I'll have to check that out.

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