People with autism have difficulties with social interaction. Through early development they often do not share attention with others, find it difficult to learn using imitation, and are impaired in their social understanding. From early development children with autism miss many of the milestones that lead to the ability to form friendships, understand other's feeling and emotions, and to make sense of other people's behaviour. Our social imagination enables us to cope in new and unfamiliar situations, and to adapt to change. Difficulties understanding the social world affects the ability to form friendships and can lead to anxiety in people with autism.
One of the main difficulties that people with autism have is with social communication. Some people with autism are non-verbal, or have limited speech, and may use alternative methods to communicate. Others may have spoken language that is unclear, restricted to a limited range of topics, or repetitive (echolalia). People with autism may require additional time to process what they hear. Understanding can be literal and phrases, jokes, and sarcasm may be misunderstood.
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Many people with autism will also have an accompanying learning disability. Some with learning disabilities will go on to live relatively independent lives. All people with autism can learn and develop with the right level of support, but some may require specialist support throughout their lives. Sensory difficulties are often experienced where senses are intensified (hypersensitive), or under-sensitive (hypo sensitive). Sights, sounds, touch, taste & smell can be unbearable and cause anxiety and even pain. Some people may not experience pain or extreme temperatures and will rock or spin to stimulate their senses.