Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), commonly known as Autism, is the general term for a group of complex disorders of brain development. This is called a “spectrum” as it is characterized by a wide-range of difficulties mainly in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviours.
For example, one child can have a significant language delay such as merely repeating sounds or echolalia while another can exhibit extreme unusual behaviours such as obsessions on an object or repetitive actions that can last for minutes to hours (i.e. rocking chair, moving something around etc.)
You may know someone with autism or actually care for one right now. However, like most carers and loved ones, you are left with questions on why these unusual and deviant behaviours seem to burst out of nowhere and go out of hand at times.
“He doesn’t look at me as if he does not hear me at all.” or “It’s as if she’s not there.”
We know how important eye contact is for any social interaction; but for those with autism, a recent study shows eye contact activates a part of their brain that triggers high levels of stress causing them to look away. Also, it is not that they do not hear you, but they lack the capacity to distinguish sounds with important information from the unnecessary ones, that is, Auditory Processing Disorder (APD). Without this attentive aspect, communication and social interaction can be very difficult for them.
“Why saying ‘No’, ‘Wait a minute’ or any verbal command of contradiction to my autistic child’s wants immediately cause a full-blown tantrum”
The problem is they do not understand the meaning of “No” like why you are saying “No” or what is it for. People with autism are usually literal so you have to explain them in the simplest words why you said “No”. Or better yet prepare or condition them for any possible circumstance in the future. For example, you and your child plan to go to the park. Tell them beforehand that if it is sunny, you will go to the park. But if it rains, you will have to stay home and play a board game for instance. So, whichever circumstance happens, you have both have a game plan.
“Why fits happen at wee hours of the night or at a random time during the day”
Know what made them feel uncomfortable. Sensory information (what your senses acquire/collect) are very random and pretty much everywhere. See what usually makes them feel uncomfortable and avoid places that can provide too much or too less stimulation. Also, their diet can play a huge role.
“Why they can become so impulsive, inflexible and aggressive towards their loved ones without a glimpse of empathy at all”
Understand that their brain responds to stimulation differently. This is why daily routines, a strict diet, and educational interventions are important in improving his/her quality of life.