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 is the whole-school saturation model and how can it improve outcomes for autistic students in inclusive settings?

One of the most important, challenging and controversial aspects of autism education is improving experiences and outcomes of autistic learners.  This process is far from straightforward. Autistic students share as many differences as they do similarities and to expect a single approach or intervention to meet the needs of all is naïve. What is the whole-school saturation model? The whole-school saturation…

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What accommodations are helpful for an autistic student?

Autistic students often find learning in the classroom environment overwhelming. There are many demands and expectations such as shifting focus, taking tests, listening, following instructions, doing homework, coping with a noisy environment, processing information, socializing, and organizing tasks. These are just a few examples. Most autistic students will require accommodations to support their unique learning styles and needs. The word…

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What does it mean when an autistic person has an auditory processing disorder?

Auditory processing is the ability to interpret the sounds that we hear. It has nothing to do with the ability to hear, but rather making sense out of—or perceiving—what is heard. A person with auditory processing disorder may have their hearing tested and perform fine, but will still struggle to process sounds. They hear speech sounds, but don’t perceive the…

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What is monotropism?

Monotropism is a theory of autism which was first developed by autistics Dinah Murray and Wenn Lawson. Dinah and Wenn independently formulated the key ideas of monotropism, then later worked together for years developing, explaining and applying the theory. Their work has helped people to make sense of autism and how it manifests in themselves and others. There is an…

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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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