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Common Issues and Challenges facing Children on the Autism Spectrum

Child with autism Children and young people on the autism spectrum (and their parents and carers) face many issues and challenges on a day to day basis.

However it is important to remember that each child with autism is a unique individual, with unique needs and abilities. Because of this, he or she will experience those issues in a unique way or may not experience them at all.

It is just as important to remember that some individuals with autism don't think of autism as a challenge at all, it's just the way they are.


Core Features

Children and young people on the autism spectrum are reported to have difficulties with two main areas.

  • persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction. For example, they may find it hard to begin or carry on a conversation, they may not understand social rules such as how far to stand from somebody else, or they may find it difficult to make friends.
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. For example, they may develop an overwhelming interest in something, they may follow inflexible routines or rituals, they may make repetitive body movements, or they may be hypersensitive to certain sounds.

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Co-Morbidities

Many children and young people on the autism spectrum have co-morbidities (co-occurring conditions and syndromes) which bring their own problems and which may complicate the problems caused by autism. For example some have co-occurring

In addition some children and young people on the autism spectrum also demonstrate challenging and disruptive behaviour (such as anger/aggression, irritability, self-injurious behaviour and tantrums).

For more information please see Conditions and syndromes related to or commonly occurring alongside autism.

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Other Issues

Some children and young people on the autism spectrum (and their parents and carers) struggle to do some of the things that other people may take for granted. For example, they may find it difficult to

  • find the right school or type of education.
  • move from school to college or into employment.
  • maintain a balanced, healthy and nutritious diet.
  • enjoy leisure and recreational opportunities.
  • travel safely and independently.
  • begin or maintain a friendship or a relationship.

In addition they may face exclusion, prejudice and/or bullying.

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Relatives and Carers

Relatives and carers of children on the autism spectrum also face issues and problems. For example they may

  • carry the the worry and exhaustion of looking after someone with autism.
  • face the frustration of trying to cope with other people's attitudes, ignorance and prejudice (a problem also faced by people with autism themselves).
  • become frustrated by the lack of high quality information about interventions that can help.
  • become frustrated by the poor quality of some of the services designed to help them.
  • be concerned about whether they or any of their other children may have autism.

For more information please see Impact on the Family

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Related Pages

Updated
08 Feb 2016