Challenges affecting those with severe Autism
When it comes to autism, there is no such diagnosis as “severe autism”. The term is generally used as a way of describing a person’s level of functioning and need. It usually refers to autistic people with the most significant symptoms. Severe autism may also be called low-functioning autism, classic, autism, “Kanner’s” autism or profound autism.
Here are some of the challenges affecting those with severe autism:
- Speech and Language Challenges:While everyone on the spectrum may have difficulty when it comes to language and social skills, those with severe autism are most likely to be entirely unable to use spoken language. They may also appear aloof and not notice the people around them.
- Sensory Dysfunction:People on the autism spectrum have sensory dysfunction and they’re too sensitive, or less sensitive to light, sound, touch, taste or smell. Those with severe autism may be extremely sensitive and may be overwhelmed when they go into crowds, encounter bright lights or loud noises.
- Cognitive Challenges:People with autism may have higher IQs than others. However, those with severe autism have low to very low IQ’s, even when tested using non-verbal testing tools. Some people with severe autism have learned to communicate using sign, spelling boards or other tools.
- Repetitive Behaviors:Those on the autism spectrum often have repetitive and self-stimulatory behaviors. They may flap their hands, rock, or flick their fingers. They may be able to control these behaviors for some time when necessary. Those with severe autism also have these symptoms which can be extreme and uncontrollable behaviors and include violent rocking, door slamming, moaning etc.
- Physical Symptoms: People with severe autism may have physical symptoms that are more apparent that those with less profound autism. These may include sleeplessness, epilepsy, and even gastrointestinal issues. As they aren’t able to communicate as effectively as others, these issues may go undiagnosed. This may lead to behavioral issues that are caused by physical pain.
Apart from the above, there are also some unusual challenges that people with severe autism have to face. They experience extreme behaviors as a result of frustration, sensory overload, or physical pain. People with severe autism have a hard time communicating their needs verbally and may find expressions in behaviors that can be frightening to those who care for them.
Although there are no treatments available for severe autism, certain medical as well as non-medical options may be useful for addressing individual symptoms. Some of these include:
- Checking for physical issues and food intolerance as the reason behind extreme behavior and addressing the same.
- Teaching them non-verbal communication skills such as use of sign, picture cards, digital talking boards, and keyboards etc.
- Provide a highly structured environment with low stress. Ensure that they have a regular routine, and predictable foods to support their daily activities.
- Try non-medical therapies such as behavioral therapy, sensory integration therapy, speech and occupational therapy, physical therapy, and play therapy.
Severe autism can present several challenges and those who have this, need to a lot of love, support and patience to manage their lives better and to lead a happy life.