At the more severe end of the spectrum, people may have little or no communication with the outside world. They may not be able to speak, or even communicate with simple gestures like pointing or eye contact.
This can make them very hard to reach, and may result in disruptive, hyperactive, unpredictable and even aggressive behaviours. It also impacts on their ability to learn effectively. Without appropriate educational intervention children with autism may grow up requiring 24/7 care and totally dependent on their family and/or on the state. We see children who withdraw and who may, if undirected, spend time engaging in “self-stimulatory behaviours” like rocking back and forth, making strange sounds, flapping their hands and bouncing on the spot.
Some people, with milder symptomology, may appear isolated and may not understand the social conventions which many of us take for granted, such as eye contact, pointing at something to share an interest or waving at someone you know. If able to talk, their intonation may sound unemotional, or they may constantly return to subjects which they find of interest, repeating themselves on a single topic without understanding the need to listen to others. This can lead to experiencing difficulties in social situations, as they simply don’t understand the rules and conventions, which other people pick up more naturally. Some people with ASD may have repetitive and limited patterns of behaviour and a strong resistance to change.