Category: Autism Facts and Myths

When Autism Disorder Strains A Happy Marriage

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“The autism diagnosis itself is often traumatic for parents. It can be a grueling process that may take up to a year or more, with multiple visits to several different professionals.”  Janeen Herskovitz, MA, LMHC said. With that, parent or guardian collaboration is essential in keeping your bond strong while withstanding the difficulties of looking after your child with autism disorder.

The Reality

Unfortunately, there are instances wherein psychological disorders like autism occurring within a family cause instability and discourse that could severely affect the relationship and eventually lead to divorce. Multiple studies have checked into this troubling issue, and yet their findings are usually contradicting.

However, what medical professionals do know is that autism is a rare disorder that induces stress not only for the parents but caregivers as well. Autism disorders start with a series of unusual events and then lead to inevitable changes that are difficult to deal with, which can then cause frustrations leading to persistent disagreements between parents.

While there are couples who are having trouble dealing with autism, there are those who have powered through all the difficulties by efficiently addressing and ironing out issues.

Autism Factors Affecting Marriage

Families are expected to endure adversities now and then. But when a family has a child with autism disorder, the stakes are higher, and the responsibilities seem doubled. Despite that, there are ways to be like the other couples who have weathered through the storm of staying together and becoming effective caregivers to their autistic child.

What are the reasons behind constant stress and how can you, as parents, be more efficient in overcoming these complications?

  1. The Acceptance
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Taking care of children with autism is supposed to be a partnership between parents, which is why both are required to be extensively knowledgeable about the condition so it can be appropriately managed. But that’s not always the case.

Some families have children with autistic disorder who are unequipped when it comes to dealing with the condition due to some reason. Mostly, only the other half is the well-rounded, well-informed one who becomes the primary caregiver.

Usually, acceptance is one of the most challenging things to do. Online counseling, such as BetterHelp, is a proven way to help couples deal with the situation. Parents can go on therapy sessions with licensed counselors to assist them in handling their circumstances. Therapists can also educate parents on the condition of their child and how to manage it.

  1. The Sharing Of Roles And Responsibilities

While the other parent is designated as the caregiver, the other is either avoidant or is usually unaware of what the disorder is and how it is managed. Here lies the conflict because only one is knowledgeable enough to engage in activities or events that concern the autistic child. Some examples are:

  • Talks to teachers about the kid’s school issues
  • Meets with developmental pediatricians
  • Shows up during evaluations
  • Takes the results

Usually, the mothers are involved in providing initial care; they are the ones who become the advocates and researchers who learn the following about their children with autism:

  • Therapeutic options
  • Classroom and school alternatives
  • Programs for special needs children
  • Education law for special needs children
  • Health insurance
  • Camps and support groups

In the meantime, fathers who choose to sideline themselves from their children’s disorder rely heavily on their wife’s capacity to perform the majority of caregiving duties, thinking that since someone’s more capable and efficient, there is no need to be fully invested in their kids’ daily roundabouts. When this becomes the scenario, the conflict will eventually arise.

Relationship experts and therapists believe that as much as possible, both parents should be involved in providing care and assuming responsibility for their kid’s condition. Collaboration is a huge factor in making sure that the relationship does not suffer while partners take care of their child.

  1. The Reaction

Autism prevails differently in children; therefore parents’ reactions are vital in maintaining a healthier bond with each other and with their autistic kids. “Young people with autism are very good at “getting stuck” and being less flexible.” John Strang, Psy.D. said.

While some parents see various challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow as a couple and as guardians, there are those who are upset and completely overwhelmed. For couples to overcome their frustrations surrounding the condition, they must first understand that an autistic kid:

  • may have ADHD
  • may not be verbal in conveying messages
  • may become noisy or silent
  • may exhibit inappropriate or disturbing behaviors
  • may become aggressive
  • may have anxiety

Because autism presents differently in children, it will take a lot of imagination, perseverance, and energy to figure out how to appropriately engage with children who have autism disorder, and this process can be quite exhausting for the assigned caregiver.

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While it is tempting for one parent to carry all the tasks and responsibilities in taking care of an autistic child and the other to surrender the role of a caregiver, it becomes an issue within the relationship due to the possibility of living separately even if they’re together. Time will come when partners find themselves at a crossroad with very little in common.

The Bottom Line

“There’s grief. There’s relief. There’s a whole range of emotions that go on there,” Jo White, a therapist said. Yes, managing an autistic child and assuming the role of a caregiver can be frightening and unsettling at first. But if couples are mutually accepting, understanding, and knowledgeable in taking on the responsibility of being parents and caregivers, the task of dealing with autism becomes lighter and even strengthens the bond of marriage.

 

Globetrotting With Autism: Preparing A Stress-free Vacation

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Autistic kids do well with established schedules, which is why traveling to foreign places can bring about discomfort due to disrupted routines. Appropriate organizing and planning can aid in your child’s adjustment to a new environment and can be beneficial for the entire family as you journey to distant lands.

 

Autism And Traveling

 

Parents who have autistic kids find it hard to travel with their children especially if it would require long hours of flying or driving. Daunting as it may seem, voyaging into unfamiliar grounds is favorable to your kids since it will introduce them to a whole new dimension of sights, sounds, and wonders that cannot be achieved at home.

 

Due to the requirement of predictability with children within the spectrum, parents are somehow hesitant to go on vacations that would trigger stress and over-stimulation. For most caregivers, the experience of journeying with an autistic child can be quite overwhelming due to episodes of self-injurious, violent, or quirky behaviors exhibited in public that would result to rude and judgmental comments from other people. But according to Janeen Herskovitz, LMHC, “Just because a child has autism, doesn’t mean their life should be limited — it means they might need extra help or adaptations in order to do the same things that others do.”

 

Preparation Done Right

 

For those who are finding ways on how to take their autistic kids with the family on a meaningful, relaxing, and fun-filled journey, here are some of the things that you can do to have a pleasurable trip minus the trouble.

 

  1. Check Travel Destinations Suitable For The Disorder

 

Not all places are disability-friendly; some areas are just too distressing that it can add further apprehensiveness on the part of your child. For children with autism, vacations signify transition, and this could pose a challenging feat. Depending on how your child presents his or her autism, parents should research for vacation places that are unhurried and flexible, like the beach, whichever is ideal for your child. As Richard Shuster, PsyD said, “Staring at the ocean actually changes our brain waves’ frequency and puts us into a mild meditative state.”

 

Source: commons.wikimedia.org

 

Always consider what perks or distresses your child. While there are children with autism who are into amusement parks, there are those who are fond of hiking. One way to assure yourself that your child will enjoy the trip is to include him or her in the planning of activities and places to go. Make sure that your itinerary is adapted to the child’s attention span, interests, and ability to process information.

 

  1. Do Scheduling Earlier

 

By making proper arrangements ahead of time, you can create a more pleasant environment for your autistic child. Communicating with people at the place of your destination like the amusement park or the museum, restaurants, hotels, and most importantly, airlines will prompt all concerned parties about your child’s condition. Discuss with them what your requests are and what your child requires especially at specific accommodations.

 

Airlines and flight attendants that are informed ahead of time regarding the condition of your children will have time to adjust and be prepared in assisting with their needs. Some airlines are now more prepared for specific scenarios and situations that might occur when flying with autistic children.

 

  1. Produce Personal Identification

 

In general, traveling with a child that has a disability would require increasing the safety plan since children are susceptible to distractions, wandering around and easily fleeing from unsuspecting adults. The National Autism Association reported that wandering is the leading cause of stress with autistic children. Furthermore, children who move about aimlessly are commonly attracted to the sight of water and are unaware of the danger that it might cause; for this reason, drowning is a primary consequence of wandering and is the primary cause of mortality in children with an autism spectrum disorder.

 

As parents, do not forget to secure a necklace or medical bracelet for your child that has your names and contact details. Some other areas where you can place the information tag are shoelaces, zipper pulls, and pocket. You can also make your child wear personalized shirts that have printouts indicating their condition and your contact information.

 

  1. Don’t Forget The Essentials

 

In other words, do not forget reinforcements that can distract your child from the stress that would prompt tantrums and outbursts. Bring their favorite toys or comfort items that can easily soothe their behavior. Make sure that you have a checklist so that you don’t forget anything significant that would make your child’s travel more comfortable and less nerve-racking.

“There is no cure for autism, nor is there one single treatment for autism spectrum disorders. But there are ways to help minimize the symptoms of autism and to maximize learning.” –Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT

Vacations with autistic children need not be complicated and arduous. Parents just have to know what to do and how to do the necessary preparations to make the trips as pleasant as possible.

The Challenging Nature Of Severe Autism

Medically speaking, severe autism is not a definite diagnosis. Severe autism is mainly used to describe an individual’s need and functioning level. Sometimes referred to as classic autism or profound autism, severe autism efficiently illustrates autistic people who possess the most prominent symptoms.

 

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Elaborating Severe Autism

Currently, the diagnostic manual (DSM-5) brought about the three categories of autism mainly focusing on the level and requirement of support. Level 3, under the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), can be labeled as severe autism that demands a considerable amount of support which would technically be a 24/7 kind of fostering and supervising.

“Different people with autism–including those diagnosed with Asperger’s or PDD (Pervasive Developmental Disability)–can have very different symptoms in varying degrees of severity.” –Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT

Severe autism is more demanding and debilitating compared to other levels of autism due to the following reasons:

 

  • Individuals who are suffering from severe autism have all similar issues like that of the two spectrums, but a higher, much-complicated
  • Major symptoms are evident in people experiencing severe autism that other high-functioning autistic individuals rarely have.

 

Both of the reasons stated above creates a virtually tricky set-up for people struggling with severe autism and their families to function efficiently in normal settings that would range from going to schools, malls, parks, or even the doctor’s office.

 

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Behavioral Difficulties Affecting Individuals With Severe Autism

Research suggests that people who have severe autism usually present intense behaviors that are commonly caused by sensory overload, physical pain, or frustration. Due to these impromptu reactions, individuals who have severe autism may have difficulties with verbally communicating their needs, that would result in their caregivers or other people having a negative perception of their behaviors.

 

Unmanaged or unaddressed behaviors usually conveyed by people with severe autism can become destructive which makes even the closest members of the family feel threatened by the lack of control for such abrupt and dangerous behaviors.

 

What are the typical behavioral challenges that are exhibited by people with severe autism?

 

  1. Aggression

“People with ASD can have problems controlling their aggression and says it is not uncommon for these clients, sometimes including adults, to pull her hair or scratch her arms.” Stephanie Smigiel, LPC said. Usually perceived as anti-social behavior, aggression committed by people with severe autism might be relatively uncommon but is undoubtedly an alarming symptom. Aggressive practices are not limited to kicking, hitting, or biting other people. People with severe autism may also manifest inappropriate acts like door banging, fecal smearing, which necessitates an effective and immediate response.

 

  1. Self-Injury

Self-injury is an act that is common for all levels of ASD; however extreme behaviors like head-banging due to frustration or anger, or consuming non-edible items, are more likely displayed by those who have severe autism.

 

  1. Straying

Another distinct characteristic of people with severe autism that renders much difficulty in dealing with is straying or wandering around for no apparent reason. Compared to high-functioning autistic people, severely autistic individuals don’t have the appropriate tools to eloquently communicate with responders, posing a more precarious situation for the person. Due to the likelihood of straying happening, the majority of families with a member who has severe autism equip the person with alarms, personalized locks, and tools for proper identification to ensure their safety.

 

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“From my perspective, it’s one of the hardest things to deal with because, particularly if they’ve got young children — they’re struggling, they’re really struggling with behaviours.”  Jo White, a therapist said. While there are currently no specific treatments that can relieve someone of his or her condition, there is a wide variety of options aimed at addressing particular symptoms of the disorder. If your children are showing signs of autism and you would want to diagnose them adequately, consulting a medical professional is advised.

 

 

Benefits Of Sports Counseling Method To Kids With Autism

Fostering self-confidence, friendship, and fun are just some of the benefits kids with autism spectrum disorder can get from playing team sports. Read on to find out more!

Kids diagnosed with ASD have cognitive, motor, as well as behavioral difficulties due to their developmental disabilities. Aside from that, kids with ASD are prone to doing repetitive movements during physical activity and fail to respond even to their names because of intellectual disabilities. At times, autistic children act aggressively towards others and are not capable of effective social interactions.

 

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Environmental Hazards That May Be Linked To Autism

The causes of autism are still not fully understood, but experts generally agree that environmental factors play a role. While genetics influence the chances of developing autism, exposure to certain chemicals early in life may also contribute towards this developmental disorder.

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Given that scientists need to do more research on what causes autism, the exact link between certain chemicals and autism is still unclear. However, reducing your child’s exposure to these chemicals is always recommended. These substances are generally toxic to the nervous system and other parts of the body. By taking some simple steps, you can drastically reduce the amounts of these toxins that you and your family receive.

Pesticides

Many food items, such as produce, may contain significant amounts of pesticides on their surfaces. The agriculture industry uses pesticides to avoid crop damage from insects and other animals, preventing product losses. Many of these chemicals are designed to linger so that doses don’t need to be applied as often. Unfortunately, this design also allows these chemicals to resist degradation from natural processes, allowing them to travel far and wide.

Unborn children and babies are susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of pesticides. Left unabated, exposure can lead to neurological defects and poor development. A study found that pregnant women living within 2 kilometers from a sprayed field were up to 16% more likely to have a child with autism.

Fortunately, you can reduce pesticide exposure by rinsing your vegetables thoroughly with clean water. Better yet, you can buy from organic vendors and other sources that do not use pesticides.

Heavy Metals

Mercury and lead are potent agents that can harm brain cells. The body mistakes them as essential minerals like calcium. Hence, they can go inside vital organs like the brain, where they proceed to wreak havoc. Effects include poor language development and impaired emotion regulation, which are hallmarks of autism.

Mercury tends to bioaccumulate in animals such as fish because their organs can’t remove them effectively. When we eat contaminated fish, mercury can slowly build up inside our bodies and reach dangerous levels.

Lead was once a common ingredient of paints, so old buildings tend to have large amounts of this metal. As the paint flakes off and disintegrates into dust, the particles can be inhaled or ingested by young children.

To avoid exposure, it’s a good idea to limit the consumption of high-risk fish such as shark or tuna. You should also have old paints replaced or move out of aging residences.

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Plastic Additives

Chemicals such as bisphenol A and phthalates are used to modify the properties of plastics, making them more durable and easy to manufacture. However, these substances can block the function of naturally occurring hormones in the body. Their most common effects include abnormalities in reproductive development, but they may also be significant in the development of autism.

To reduce exposure, check the type of plastic that you use around your children. If they have recycling codes 3, 4, or 7, you should probably stay away from them. Better yet, use products that guarantee to be free of phthalates and bisphenol A. Reducing consumption of packaged and processed food is also a good idea.

By being wary of these environmental hazards, you may better prevent your child from developing autism. What’s sure is that your child will have a healthier life.

Family Therapy – Autism

Autism family therapy

An autism family therapy expert helps manage ASD. Know more about autism family therapy here.

road sign
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Autism Family Therapy

Therapy Interventions For The Child With Autism

How does autism family therapy help?

Honestly, there is no secret recipe or special powers required to be successful in raising a child who falls on the autism spectrum. However, there is a specific way for the entire family (including extended family members) to manage the symptoms of autism spectrum disorder, provide understanding for the child’s life, enhance communication, strengthen relationships, and accumulate appropriate social skills to navigate around the challenging world of autism spectrum childcare. Let’s talk more about this specific autism family therapy.

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Speech Therapy

Speech therapy is accessible nowadays. It is considered effective and efficient. It is administered by a speech therapy expert and the therapy helps with vocabulary problems affecting kids. Given that information, what else is there to know about speech therapy? Let’s further discuss a few things about the speech therapy process and understand how it is beneficial for kids’ problems.

speech therapy
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What Is Speech Therapy

Speech therapy aims to help with autism spectrum disorder (ADD) in children. The treatment is essential so that we know they can live a normal and happy life, too. Almost everyone with ASD is advised to take the treatment. The reason for this is that many children with ASD have compromised or limited capacities and have a hard time with words and sentences. At the same time, they also confront major non-verbal communication problems, specifically maintaining eye contact and playing with other people. For these reasons, management for this has many benefits for children with ASD. 

 

“Traditionally, intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has focused upon reducing interfering behavior and teaching language, academic and self-help skills.” –Marlene Driscoll, MA, LMFT

 

Speech Therapy Helps Autistic Children

Develop The Ability To Express Needs

Children with speaking problems have a hard time expressing both their wants and needs. Sometimes, they do not learn spoken language bit by bit; instead, they do it in “chunks.” This is where speech therapy comes in. For example, they repeat these long chunks of sentences from their favorite TV shows and stories without fully understanding what they mean. Experts call this disorder echolalia. This can be addressed with therapy.

With the help of speech therapy, they learn how to communicate verbally and non-verbally with other people and exchange ideas with their peers properly. It is crucial in building relationships not only in the comforts of their home but also outside of it. Children need to mingle with other kids, too. They need to communicate, play, and interact with other people in order to grow. They are able to express their emotions in a healthy and proper way. This is one of the most important goals of speech therapy. 

Improves Grammar

Speech therapy aims to aid children with ASD as they have a difficult time applying correct grammar even if it’s taught both in school and at home. The most common grammar mistake they do is referring to themselves in the third person. For example, instead of saying, “I want to eat cereals,” they’ll say, “John wants cereals.” In this component, professionals target this skill and guide them into correcting these grammar mistakes.

With this treatment, children with autism are able to identify which words and phrases to use in order for others to understand what they want to communicate.

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Helps Children Talk Confidently

Speech therapy also addresses one of the difficulties of having ASD which is the inability to comprehend both verbal and nonverbal communication that other people try to tell you. It also teaches them to recognize cues such as facial expressions and body language and translate these into understandable messages. As such, it also gives them the capability to initiate individual and group communication without having to wait for others to do so.

“It is painful and difficult to identify, because so many neurotypical partners see these as problems existing within in themselves, rather than as their reactions to confusion, to feeling systematically ignored, or to feeling not heard for many years.” –Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC

Assists Their Articulation Skills

Aside from improving their comprehension, it also targets the improvement of the children’s articulation skills. Articulation refers to the physical movement of the lips, palate, tongue, and jaw. All of these parts should be able to coordinate correctly to produce sounds learned in this treatment.

Children, too become confident as they learn the proper words and gestures to use when communicating with other people. 

Speech Therapy Guides Children To Produce Sound Patterns

Addresses Speaking Fluency

Speech therapy is beneficial to children with ASD experiencing various communication disorders like interjections, prolongations, and repetitions. Displaying these behaviors tends to lower their self-confidence. With the help of this intervention for ASD, the patients learn strategies on how to increase their fluency and control their stutters.

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Effects Of Speech Therapy

“Often, kids, teens, and adults on the spectrum spend a lot of time trying to be “normal”, fighting sensory overload and overwhelm, fending off personal quirks, and trying so hard to “fit in”, socially and otherwise.” Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT said. Just like other medical diagnoses, the earlier you detect and treat speaking problems, the higher the chances of addressing them thoroughly. Usually, children utter their first words around their 18th month and form basic phrases and sentences in their 24th month. It means that ASD is detectable at the age of 3. Therefore, it is recommended to start speech therapy early for it to be more beneficial and useful for children with autism.

Therapy: FAQs

What are some examples of speech therapy?

What age is best for speech therapy?

What is the point of speech therapy?

What are the steps in speech therapy?

How can I do speech therapy at home?
What are common speech problems?
How do I know if my child needs speech therapy?
What causes speech delay?
How Long Should speech therapy last?
Does speech therapy actually work?

Therapists Talks About Autism And Object Attachment

Autism is a common mental condition in the US. Experts like therapists and psychologists view the mental illness as something that significantly affects a person’s development. Its signs and symptoms are the avoidance of eye contact, delayed speech, difficulty understanding other people’s emotions, and unexpected reactions with sounds, sight, and smell. But one of the most unnoticed symptoms is an individual’s strange attachment to an object. It may not sound an issue for some, but there is a psychological explanation as to why it is becoming a determining factor.

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An individual with an autism spectrum disorder experiences an object attachment. As explained by John Strang, Psy.D. “Young people with autism are very good at “getting stuck” and being less flexible.” However, no one seems to get bothered by it. Perhaps it is because people look at it is as something familiar for most individuals without even having a mental illness.  But the way autistic people feel about a particular possession is beyond sentimental perspective. Yes, it is not comparable to a life and death situation. But it is something that affects someone’s way of living. Like for example, if an autistic person tends to have a teddy bear, he will most likely keep it close to him all the time. It will become more of a comforting object. Honestly, you can expect it to be an individual’s possession that certainly lasts for more than a couple of years.

Autistic’s Object Attachment

An autistic’s object attachment is not at all harmful. However, it somehow depicts obsession. That is because the comfort that the individual feels whenever he is with the object gets channeled in it. The person feels an emotional connection that nobody can explain.

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In some cases, it becomes helpful because it can change an individual’s mood in an instant. Like for example, if children are scared and lonely, they feel safe around their dolls and toys. However, the situation is not different when we talk about the loss of a valued possession. In some unfortunate cases, the loss of that particular item causes severe anxiety and depression to an individual because he feels lost without it. There are instances that he won’t eat, talk, and get out of bed without the proof of his possessions existence. It is as if the whole world only revolves around that particular item. With that, an autistic person finds it hard to recover from the emotional damage that nobody seems to understand.

What Autistic People Feel

Object attachment affects an autistic individual in different ways. “People with ASD can have problems controlling their aggression and says it is not uncommon for these clients, sometimes including adults, to pull her hair or scratch her arms.” Stephanie Smigiel, LPC said. There is a tendency the person gets to feel uncomfortable with his surroundings too. Sometimes he can’t seem to concentrate without his stuff by his side. There are even cases where an autistic feel upset and angry when someone is trying to use his precious belonging or want to look at it. Sometimes, there is a point where an autistic individual become violent, especially if their valued possession gets taken without permission. That is because the thought of it getting broken and damaged is scarier than the idea of losing it.

Honestly, the emotional dilemma is hard to put into words. And sometimes, even if it gets fixed by someone, an autistic person does not immediately feel okay. That is because he thinks that the fixed item will never be the same. The thought of it getting broken will never leave an autistic person’s head, and he will entirely think about it over and over. Another example of a scenario where people are so insensitive about an autistic’s emotional and mental state is when he is playing with Lego. Yes, those are toys that are meant to be broken down into pieces. However, an autistic finds himself feeling troubled about his valued possession getting destroyed. And even though it is fixable, the idea that it gets ruined will stick and mess with his mind.

Official Diagnosis

There is no concrete diagnosis of object attachment in autism spectrum disorder. “Autism is a result of neurological differences in the structure of the brain that distinguish it from what we call the neurotypical brain. It is not mental illness or a personality disorder.”  Sarah Swenson, MA, LMHC explains. However, a lot of individuals with the same mental condition share the same trait. Yes, there are criteria for determining the signs and symptoms of autism. But some of the unnoticed categorical attributes somehow falls in a mild end that goes up to severe cases. Unfortunately, this is where the confusion comes in.

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Insight

There is no particular description as to where and where an autistic individual would flip when someone else is trying to get a hold of his possession. But one thing is for sure. It is hard for an autistic to try and keep things as controlled as possible. That is because the amount of psychological distress that it gives, even if it’s a little thing, can make an emotional and mental recovery impossible.