Autism and Other Special Needs
The term ‘autism’ is often used interchangeably with ADHD, Asperger syndrome and ‘learning disabilities’ in general. Here we look at the differences among these conditions, as defined in medical literature.
- Autism is characterized by difficulties with communicating, understanding other people, and social situations.
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is characterized by greater inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity than their peers. People with ADHD are much less likely to have the same level of difficulty people with autism have in social situations.
- Asperger syndrome is characterized by qualitative impairment in social interaction, by stereotyped and restricted patterns of behavior, activities and interests, and by no clinically significant delay in cognitive development or general delay in language. (Source: American Psychiatric Association)
Note that people with Asperger’s usually don’t shy away from communicating with others. Those with autism, however, are much less interactive than their aspie counterparts. Delay in speech development is not associated with Asperger syndrome, but can be an early symptom of autism.
- Learning disabilities are a group of disorders that affect the brain’s ability to retrieve and process information. Disorders include dyslexia (difficulties processing language), dyscalculia (difficulties using math), dysgraphia (difficulties writing), and dyspraxia (difficulties with motor skill development).