Autism Q & A

Autism Q & A

Our Autism Q & A section is where we try to answer the most common questions we are asked, in a clear short concise manner. Everything from how to tell a sibling about autism, to teaching a person with ASD to be more independent. This section likely has an answer to your questions about autism.

What are splinter skills?

I first became aware of the term splinter skills 16 years ago through an autistic friend of mine, John Simpson. The Autism Society of Minnesota has an excellent definition of what this is in their downloadable resource: A splinter skill is the ability to do a specific task that does not generalize to other similar situations; a “splinter” of a…

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What is low demand parenting or a low demand approach?

Low demand parenting or the low demand approach is often spoken about in the context of Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA); however, this can be helpful for a person who experiences high levels of stress and anxiety. This is a low arousal approach because it prioritizes the reduction of stress and anxiety and is based on trust, flexibility, collaboration, and a…

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How can perseverative thoughts be lessened?

Perseveration is when a person has repetitive thoughts and dwells on negative incidents, causing them to become “stuck”. Perseverative thoughts can happen because a person may be trying to manage stress, process information, shift attention, can’t stop thinking about certain things, or can’t control behaviors. This kind of thinking, or looping thoughts, is not done consciously or on purpose. It…

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How can we recognize depression in autistic individuals and find the support they need?

While depression is a mental health condition that can affect anyone, autistic individuals are 4 times more likely than the general population to experience depression. Research suggests that up to half of all autistic people will be depressed at some point in their lives. Depression should not be ignored and is treatable with the right support. If you or someone…

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What is autistic inertia?

An autistic person wrote to me and asked what might be the reason they are experiencing difficulty starting a task. This got me thinking about autistic inertia. Quincy Hansen, autistic blogger, defines it as: the tendency that autistic people have to want to remain in a constant state. When we’re asleep we want to stay asleep, when awake we want…

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What is a structured environment? Why is it helpful for autistic individuals?

A structured environment describes the conditions under which a person should be taught and supported rather than where they should be taught or what to learn. This is a system for organizing environments, developing appropriate activities, and helping people understand what is expected of them. A structured environment is comprised of the physical set up of a room/space, schedules, work…

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What is alexithymia and its relationship to interoception?

This is a guest post by author Kelly Mahler, reprinted with her permission.  What is alexithymia? We know alexithymia is a term that’s used to describe when someone has difficulty identifying their feelings–or more specifically identifying and describing their emotions. Researchers have found that one in 10 people can experience this alexithymia and these rates are even higher in people that…

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How do autistic girls present differently than boys?

It is becoming more acknowledged and recognized that girls on the autism spectrum present differently than boys do. The diagnostic ratio has been 3 boys to every 1 girl diagnosed, but is this a true representation of the female population? Autistic females are not being diagnosed due to their differences in presentation, and on average are diagnosed 2 – 3…

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How do I keep an autistic person safe and well online?

Most people enjoy aspects of being online and this technology has many benefits such as connecting with people all over the world, pursuing interests, watching films and video clips, and finding information on just about any subject you can think of. Since COVID-19 started, internet use has increased significantly worldwide. Technology itself is not good or bad, healthy or unhealthy.…

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What is misophonia?

Misophonia is an extreme sensitivity to certain sounds such as chewing, pen tapping, sniffling, throat clearing, or scratching.  Its main symptom is a strong negative reaction when hearing triggering sounds. Small sounds can be unbearable and cause a fight or flight response to these triggering sounds. Some sound triggers may cause such distress that a person will avoid situations where…

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What is autistic masking?

Autistic masking, camouflaging, or compensating is a conscious or unconscious suppression of natural autistic responses. It is hiding or controlling behaviors associated with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that may be viewed as inappropriate in situations. Autistic people may feel the need to present or perform social behaviors that are considered neurotypical or may hide neurodiverse behaviors in order to be…

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What is autistic burnout?

Maybe you’ve heard the term autistic burnout and wondered what it is and how this term come about. We usually hear the term “burnout” used in professional life, which is characterized by exhaustion. The autistic community began applying the burnout term to all areas of life. Autistic adults have reported times when they could no longer cope, lost skills, had…

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Autism Community Support – What Can You Offer?

Community based organizations and groups reach a variety of individuals with varying needs and wants. Not every organization will have access to trained professionals in all requested areas of support, but there is a lot you can provide at the grassroots level. There are several options that can be offered in the community around support, interaction, and information. Four ideas…

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What is a sensory diet?

A sensory diet, first created by occupational therapists Wilbarger and Wilbarger (1991) , is an individualized plan of physical activities and accommodations to help a person meet their sensory needs. This plan provides the sensory input needed to stay focused and organized throughout the day. For example, some people may feel overwhelmed or overloaded and need to get to a…

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How do I know if my baby or young child is autistic?

Every week, I get emails from concerned parents who are worried that their baby or young child may be showing signs of autism. Parents send me a list of things they see and wonder if these are early indicators of autism. Every child is an individual and will not develop in the same way, hitting each milestone at the same…

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