Even with the gift of articulate speech and understanding, some of us frequently misunderstand each other. Sometimes, we’re at odds with the other person’s thinking or simply unable to bridge a communication gap. But amongst are individuals who have it even harder: those who don’t recognise certain ways of human communication like facial expressions, gestures, touch or eye contact. They suffer from a condition that makes social interaction a challenge.
One in every 80 people in the world is born with autism. Yet, hardly any of us know much about the condition. Many even mistake it to be a personality disorder. The truth is, autism is a complex condition to understand, let alone manage or live with. It varies widely from individual to individual, making it hard–even for experts–to describe it definitively. According to the official website of the Autism Society: “Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviours and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees.”
Most autistic individuals simply have perceptual problems. For instance, they might have great speech and auditory perception, but lack tactile perception.
The degree to which autism can limit an individual’s perception varies. This makes it all the more difficult for the rest of us to understand and assist autistic individuals.