Autism Awareness Pack


Autism Awareness PDF and Powerpoint

Welcome to this Autism Awareness page. This is a short handout on Autism for people who need a quick overview of what Autism is all about. While this page explains each slide in detail, the same information in also available in the form of Autism PDF and Powerpoint slides. Click below to download the necessary format

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Autism PDF Slide 2: Introduction

Autism ppt slide 2Autism covers a wide range of abilities and difficulties. It is very rare that two people with Autism will have exactly the same signs and symptoms. Autism rarely occurs in isolation from Learning Difficulties or Mental Health Problems .

Although there are differences between people with Autism there are also similarities, especially surrounding the triggers that can cause them stress and anxiety.

Autism Powerpoint Slide 3: What is Autism?

autism powerpoint slide 3What is Autism in simple terms? Autism alters the way in which the brain processes information as well as they way that information is stored and organized. Autism is a developmental disorder that causes problems in three areas of ability:

  • Social Skills: usually delayed. Difficulty in reading social situations and acting appropriately.
  • Communication Skills: includes both verbal and non-verbal skills. Language delay – usually late talkers. Find it difficult to verbally express emotions.
  • Ritualistic Behaviours: repetitive behaviours similar to OCD (often manifested through counting or sorting objects). Restrict everyday life and experiences.

Autism PPT Slide 4: Autism Types

Autism ppt slide 4Autism has always existed but it was not until 70 years ago, that it was defined as a clinical condition. As recently as 40 years ago, clinicians were still trying to agree on a standardized definition.

Recent changes to the criteria for the diagnosis of Autism. This can be found in the DSM V (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders V).

The terms Asperger’s Syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder and Autism are now replaced by Autism I, Autism II and Autism III. For all the key categories, refer to our page on key types of Autism. Some concerns around Autism types are that:

  • The diagnosis process has become too simplistic. (Diagnosis is now made within the areas of Social Communication and Ritualistic Behaviours).
  • Asperger’s Syndrome as a term no longer exists.

The categories do not go far enough to give descriptors about an individuals sensitivity, resilience or scope of symptoms.

Autism Awareness Slide 5: Autism Vs Asperger’s

Aspergers and Autism awareness slide 5So what is the difference between Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome? Let me explain:

Autism: A spectrum of neuropsychiatric disorders characterized by deficits in Social interaction and Communication and unusual and repetitive behaviour. Some but not all people with Autism are non- verbal.

Asperger’s Syndrome: Also known as Asperger’s disorder, is one in a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that have effects on a person’s behaviour, use of language and communication and pattern of social interactions.

Research (2014) has indicated that current incidences of Autism is 1 in 68 children (for every 5 children diagnosed 4 will be male and 1 female). The increase cannot be completely explained by the change in the DSM V criteria.

Autism PDF Slide 6: What Causes Autism

Autism PDF slide 6Traditionally it was thought that there was a genetic predisposition to autism. But conclusions reached by recent research identified that only 1 in 10 people diagnosed with Autism had a definitive cause.

Symptoms of Autism often appear gradually so theories about the build up of toxic metals and pollutants in combination with other factors such as genetics, heredity and neurology may offer the most realistic explanation. Below are some of the possible causes of Autism:

  • PCB (Polychlorinated Biphenyls) found in old electrical equipment and also found in fluorescent lighting.
  • Inability to detoxify metals such as mercury and lead
  • Lower than average presence of Vitamin E.
  • Pesticides and other pollutants

Autism Powerpoint Slide 7: Autism Myths

autism powerpoint slide 7[Myth] Tantrums.There is usually a trigger to a behaviour. Remember that inappropriate behaviour is the result of a person being in a situation that is difficult to understand, they feel threatened or are experiencing difficulty in communicating their needs (see Sensory Meltdowns).

[Myth] Autistic people don’t want friendships. They do want friends, but they find it hard to crack the social codes to join in with other people.

[Myth] All people with Autism are good at Math. Some may be very good at math but they are just as likely to be good at other subjects such as Art or Music.

[Myth] People with Autism are not creative. People with high functioning autism can put a different slant on a solution to a problem as they can think outside of the box.

[Myth] People with Autism have no feelings. They have feelings and emotions the same as everyone else, but they have difficulty in expressing and sharing them.

Also refer to ADHD Myths and facts.

Autism PPT Slide 8: Signs of Autism

autism ppt slide 8Below are some of the key signs of Autism. For a more elaborate list, please check out our post on Autism Symptoms Checklist.

  • Limited or inappropriate social interactions (finding it difficult to break the social code or act inappropriately in formal settings).
  • ‘Robotic’ or repetitive speech (sometimes they may even have an accent that is not indigenous to where they
    Difficulties with nonverbal communication (gestures, expressions, etc.) but have average to above average verbal skills
  • Tendency to discuss self. They will monopolise conversations which will be about self or their current favourite topic and generally appear aloof.
  • Inability to understand social/emotional issues or nonliteral phrases. They will find it hard to appreciate jokes.
  • Lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation. Lack of eye contact may be because they are concentrating.
  • Obsession with specific, often unusual, topics. They will be able to share information about their favourite topic which could be weather, time tables or dinosaurs.
  • Awkward movements and/or mannerisms. Could be mistaken for dyspraxia.

Note that generally Autistic people do not like to be touched by others, they tend to avoid hugs. Their personal space is a far bigger then the average person. Please check out our online Autism test center for more details.

Autism Awareness Slide 9: Autism and Females

female autism awareness slide 9 The proportion of Males with Autism outnumbers Females by roughly 4 to 1. The initial question why are there more males than females with Autism? Is it a Male dominated problem or there another reason?

Some of the symptoms are so subtle that parents and teachers may not be able to pick up on the clues. Previously Autism signs and symptoms in girls have also been incorrectly diagnosed as personality disorders.

Autism in Girls Vs Autism in Boys:

  • Girls with autism tend to be withdrawn rather than aggressive when they are frustrated. In the classroom or during social occasions this behaviour is not immediately obvious as being a problem.
  • Females tend to have the ability to express their emotions in a calmer way.
  • Females are generally more supported by their neurotypical friends who help them cope with difficult social situations. Peer support masks some of the issues that parents and teachers would have generally recognised.

Personality Traits of a Female with Autism:

  • Obsessive tendencies (animals, dolls and other female orientated interests). Neurotypical girls will play with dolls and re-enact social situations, the Asperger girl may collect dolls but not re-enact social situation or play dolls with their peers.
  • Fascination with particular subjects which will result in them age related behaviours. A preteen with Asperger’s may still be fascinated with stuffed animals or cartoons.
  • They have a tendency to mimic neurotypical children, but will use phrases and gestures inappropriately.
  • They get bored with people of their own age and will show little empathy with their friends and their worries.
  • Generally girls are more passive than boys who have Autism.

Autism PDF Slide 10: The Good Side of Autism

Autism PDF slide 10Most kids with Classical or Borderline Autism symptoms have this affirmative qualities. Please note, that Not all of these positive attributes apply to every person with Autism or Aspergers.

Also, children with ADHD /ADD or oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) tend to not to display such personality traits.

Autism Powerpoint Slide 11: Stimming

autism powerpoint stimming slide 11

  • Stimming should not be confused with Tourette’s Syndrome or Tics.
  • Stimming is a defined as a repetitive body movement that is self-stimulatory and can be as simple as a sideways gaze or as obvious as running in circles or jumping and clapping.
  • Stimming can affect any part of the body.
  • Some Stims may involve repetitive throat clearing, hand flapping, repeating the same word or sound because of the tickling sensation that it gives in the mouth. Echolalia in autism is also another form of stimming.
  • Stimming can also involve chewing on clothes or rocking back and forth repeatedly.
  • The difference between stimming and mimicking an action or behaviour is the amount of times that it is repeated.
  • Treatment of Stims will depend on the cause of a Stim.

Autism PPT Slide 12: Autism & Visual Learning

autism ppt slide 12People with Autism are Visual Learners. There are three main strategies that we learn new information:

  • Visual – what we see and how we interpret it
  • Auditory – what we hear and how we interpret it
  • Tactilewhat we feel and how we interpret it

Or, in some cases, children with Autism may use a combination of strategies.

In a classroom setting if students are listening to the teacher/tutor and there are no visual examples of what they are saying then Visual Learners will only take on 20% of what is said. If the students are trying to take notes at the same time then that rate drops even further.

People who have dyslexia are best at learning new skills when they can see a demonstration. They may be able to relate to written instructions later but as they are visual learners they need to see ‘things in action’ so to speak. This is the same for people with Autism.

Social Skills for Autistic Children

The majority of people learn social skills by watching other people. Some of the time we learn behaviours ‘by accident’. For people with Autism they can learn social skills by observation but they will need some support that will explain actions and reactions to situations. They need support to be able to understand and then apply that information to other situations. They also need to know that not every situation is the same so there needs to be a certain amount of adaptability which people with high functioning find difficult.

Autism Awareness Slide 13: Autism Risk Awareness

autism awareness slide 13
Below are a few types of identified Risks involved with Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. Any of these risks can result in a situation where an intervention is needed to prevent the person unintentionally hurting themselves or someone else.

They will get very upset with any changes to timetable or routines if they are not told about it

  • Misread social situations. E.g. in relationships not understanding the subtle clues when they are being annoying.
  • Lack common sense and has little or no understanding of personal safety . E.g. difficulty understanding consequences of actions.
  • Can be distracted by strong interests. E.g. to the point where they may not eat or sleep as they are so engrossed with reading a book or playing a computer game.
  • Dislike getting messy. They will tend to avoid tactile activities such as food preparation or painting. They can get very distressed if they do get messy. And likewise if they have a strong preference to wearing particular clothes they will get upset if those clothes get dirty and they need to wear something else. (parents usually buy several identical sets clothes to avoid this anxiety)
  • If they get anxious or annoyed, they find it difficult to express their feelings so will appear to be very irritable and verbally abusive. If the situation escalates they can become physically destructive.

These are generalised risks and may not apply to everyone with Asperger’s syndrome, the important thing is at this stage to acknowledge the level of risk and understand that there are support tactics that can be applied.

Autism PDF Slide 14: Autism Support Strategy

Autism PDF slide 14
In response to the identified risks here are some support tactics that are commonly used. The important aspect to remember is that with sensitive support they can re-focus. Being able to physically move themselves out of a situation is also a positive way to re-focus.

  • Changes – Advance warning of changes to schedules will reduce stress and help to plan alternative routes and scenarios.
  • Misread social situations – Respond well to boundaries when they know what they are. The boundaries need to be explained in simple terms that do not speak down to them.
  • Crystal Clear Instructions – so as there is no misinterpretation or confusion.
  • Mentor – They will benefit from a mentor to talk to when they become upset or anxious.
  • Safe Place – somewhere that has been agreed prior to experiencing any difficulty.
  • Cards or a Scribe – They may also benefit from having someone to scribe for them to express their feelings or focus their ideas. If the person you are dealing with is very anxious for whatever reason they are going to find it very difficult to communicate verbally so ideally you should some form of cards that they can point to that helps them express their feelings without getting more stressed and anxious.

Watch your Language: What to say/ what not to say

Remember that what you say will have a literal interpretation. Phrases to avoid:

  • ‘Walk on ahead’ could be interpreted as ‘Walk on your head’;
  • Has the cat got your tongue?
  • Keep your eye on the ball
  • You’ll have to pull your socks up
  • Looks can Kill
  • You are pulling my leg

And a common phrase that could really upset an autistic child is ‘Have you got a frog in your throat?” Be prepared for a major melt down! Choose your words carefully.

Remember that visualisation strategies are not really useful. Ideally you will know something about the person, such what they feel comfortable with or how they prefer people to explain things to them.

Autism Powerpoint Slide 15: Autism Sensory Overload

autism powerpoint slide 15People with Autism also have a heightened sensitivity to sound, smell, light, taste, touch and visual stimulus. There are three other senses that are less well known. A person with Autism can be more (hyper) or less (Hypo) sensitive in each of these sensory areas.

  • Vestibular: The sense of balance, movement and being able to know where you are within the space you occupy.
  • Proprioceptive: The sense of being aware of your posture and how to self-correct.
  • Interceptive: The sense of the internal body and regulation.

An example of Hypo-sensitivity is when a child spins for ages and they walk away with no apparent ill effects such as appearing dizzy. This could be regarded as thrill seeking behaviour.

An example of Hyper-sensitivity is when a child will only drink out of a cup made of a particular material, or a particular colour and sometimes the cup may have to be a particular temperature otherwise they will not even attempt to drink out of it. For more details, please refer to Sensory Integration Disorder symptoms.

Sensory Meltdown

Autistic children often resort to sensory overload. This should not be mistaken for a tantrum. A tantrum is when a child or person cannot get their own way or gets the toy, object or attention that they crave. A sensory Meltdown is when there is far too much sensory stimulus and no way to get out of the situation.

The level and type of sensory stimulus for one person may be painful and uncomfortable for another person. This situation can occur when out shopping, when they shop is overcrowded or the music is too loud or there is an odour that the person finds horrible. (One person’s expensive fragrance is another person’s cat litter tray!)

An inability to cope or withdraw from any sensory discomfort can be disastrous. Ideally a person (child or adult) needs a quiet safe place where they can go to take some time out and compose themselves. They should not be punished for being unable to cope.

Autism PPT Slide 16: Autism & Learning

Autism ppt slide 16

Autism does not occur in isolation. It rarely occurs independently of other difficulties such as Learning or Mental Health Difficulties

Learning Difficulties

School can be a challenging environment at the best of times but if a child is having difficulties such as anxiety, depression then any stressful event can cause the child to overthink the situation and react to a fight or flight stimulus which can then result in emotional trauma that in turn causes problems with concentration.

Most people, who have Autism, also have Learning difficulties, such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, ADHD, and/or Tourette’s syndrome. For some people there may be more than one Learning difficulty to cope with. If this is the case then it is usual to focus on the Disability that causes the most difficulty or most concern.

In other cases the disability may not be apparent at first as they may have found ways to disguise their difficulty. It is important to support the child rather than the label. In most schools there are support guidelines that can be adapted to help all children who are struggling, not just children with Autism and/or Learning Disabilities.

Because a child has a Learning Disability does not mean that their social and emotional needs are any less the children who surround them at school. Consider how difficult it is for the child with Dyslexia to decode some of the words in written instructions especially when they see how the other children are helping each other,

If the child is above average intelligence, having a learning disability can be doubly difficult. Most people with Dyslexia are average or above average intelligence and the same is the case with Asperger’s syndrome. This is further confounded if the child suffers with anxiety. This will result in poor self-esteem and low confidence levels.

Learning difficulties can lead to low self-esteem, isolation and ultimately behavior problems. If a child has a good support system that allows them to learn to express themselves, deal with their frustrations and see disappointments as challenges rather than an accepted ending they will have the chance to taste success.

Generally children with Learning Disabilities have difficulties with expressing their feelings, which will cause frustration and in some cases anger. They also have difficulty taking on strategies to enable themselves to calm down. Good social and emotional skills are a worthy indicator of success for both children and adults. If a child or adult can develop socially and emotionally, it can compensate for a lack of academic skills

Early interventions can help children with Autism become more independent, confident and self-reliant in many social situations. This does not mean that the interventions can ‘cure’; it means that the child will have a template in which they can expand their knowledge and apply their learning to many different situations.

Autism Awareness Slide 17: Autism & Mental Health

autism awareness slide 17

Mental problems

  • Anxiety and Depression may be the most common disorders that are associated with Autism. 38% of adults with autism have depression. In general terms people with Autism are very vulnerable to mental health problems especially in late adolescence and early adulthood.

One of the main causes of mental health problems can be related the difficulty with communication difficulties especially with expressing feelings, anxiety or distress. Most clinicians have little knowledge or understanding of developmental disorders so talking therapies such as CBT to alleviate anxiety and depression are not successful.

It is difficult to diagnose depression and anxiety as people with autism as they have impaired non-verbal communication and expression that may not be visible.

  • Sleep Difficulties: Many people with Autism, especially high functioning Autism, may experience problems with sleep. This is because they find it hard to block out thoughts and calm themselves down ready to sleep. In cases like this they are often prescribed the hormone Melatonin. It is not a sleeping tablet it is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body to send signals to the neurotransmitters that relay messages to the brain that it is time to sleep. There are no side effects to Melatonin. Use of special weighted blankets can also aid falling to sleep, staying asleep and waking refreshed.

Lack of sleep can cause stress in the body, which can heighten sensitivities to anxieties.

  • Bipolar Disorder: This is more noticeable in adults than young children as the symptoms are rarely picked up in babies and toddlers.

Bipolar disorder is where a person has mood swings that can last for several days of extreme highs and extreme lows. We all have a range of feelings that we experience throughout the day but people with Bipolar disorder can go from barely sleeping and being extremely active for several days to being stuck in bed for several days with depression. It can be very debilitating if not treated.

  • General Anxiety Disorder (GAD): This is about excessively worrying about everyday things. We all worry about things like health, money and family problems. People with GAD are extremely worriers about these things and many other things as well even when there is little or no reason to worry.

From the time that they open their eyes in the morning to the time they go to bed they worry. Throughout the day the anxiety may increase to the point where it prevents them from completing everyday tasks.

Behavioral Problems

  • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Often the anxiety through worry is so intense that it has a major impact on the ability to live a normal life. A person may need to perform repetitive actions (e.g. checking or cleaning) and if they are unable to perform these actions they will experience a heightened sense of anxiety.

OCD needs to be put into perspective. We all need to wash our hands. We should all tidy up after ourselves. Sometimes when we are under pressure we all experience the inability to relax and put negative thought out of our minds. But in general terms these actions or thoughts do not encompass our behaviour to the point where it is obsessional.

  • Sleep Difficulties: Many people with Autism, especially high functioning Autism, may experience problems with sleep. This is because they find it hard to block out thoughts and calm themselves down ready to sleep. In cases like this they are often prescribed the hormone Melatonin. It is not a sleeping tablet it is a hormone that occurs naturally in the body to send signals to the neurotransmitters that relay messages to the brain that it is time to sleep. There are no side effects to Melatonin. Use of special weighted blankets can also aid falling to sleep, staying asleep and waking refreshed.

Lack of sleep can cause stress in the body, which can heighten sensitivities to anxieties.

  • Seizures: It is estimated that one third of people with Autism also have epilepsy which can result in seizures. In a general population the incidence of Epilepsy is 2 in every 100 people.

It is thought that the brain abnormalities that are associated with Autism are probably the major contribution to Epilepsy. Consider the differences that influences changes in the way information is transferred between neurons across the neural synapse in the Autistic brain, the explanation for the high incidence of seizures in people with Autism sounds logical

Seizures can occur at any age but those most at risk are children with Autism over the age of 13 who have a lower than average IQ (below 70). Not all children who have a seizure are diagnosed with Epilepsy. Typically a diagnosis is made after at least two seizures.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

ADHD is one of the most widespread difficulties that may start at an early age and continue on through childhood, adolescence and adulthood. In the classroom children who have only the inattentive signs of ADHD or ADD, will get overlooked. This is because they are usually not causing any disruption in the class.

For the child with Autism it is difficult to assess where the symptoms of Autism and ADHD/ADD begin and end. There may be aspects of Autism that lend itself to ADHD/ADD and vice versa.

  • Hyperactivity: Most children are very active but children with symptoms of hyperactivity are always on the move. They find it very difficult to sit still; they can be found constantly fiddling with objects and moving from project to project without actually completing anything.
  • Impulsivity: Children that are impulsive have difficulty in controlling their behavior; generally they seem to have little or no regard for other people’s personal space. They tend to ask what appears to be irrelevant questions and make tactless observations.

Aspects of behaviour are only a real concern when they are not age or ability appropriate. Again the importance here is the realization that everyone has some of these behaviours to an extent, but it becomes a real problem when it affects daily living. The categories do not go far enough to give descriptors about an individuals sensitivity, resilience or scope of symptoms. [/fusion_tagline_box]

Autism PDF Slide 18: Autism Resources

autism pdf slide 18

Communication Passports

These provide information about individuals in a way that promotes them as a person and not just a disability. The information includes details of the person’s likes and dislikes as well as anxiety triggers. It supplies details of how best to communicate and support that person in different contexts. It also illustrates that person’s unique qualities.

  • It provides important information that promotes the person as an individual not a disability.
  • Information should include details of the person’s likes and dislikes as well as anxiety triggers.

These Communication passports are usually easy to read and provide information from the individual as well as Carers and professionals that are working with them. They can be used to support vulnerable children and adults. The downside to the communication passports are that they take some time to complete, but their value is priceless.

There is a similar document that is used in Healthcare. It is a commonplace tool that is used in both Hospitals and Care Homes. It can be accessed by medical staff as well as Carers and Social Workers. It provides information about who to contact, who co-ordinates care for the patient, and other similar information that is found in the Communication Passport.

From the point of view of someone (child or adult) who is Autistic the information in these passports are invaluable as it will help staff become more confident with dealing with the patient and at the same time provides information about Autism. For the child or vulnerable adult this means that a hospital stay becomes less traumatic.

Autism Alert card is designed for older children and adults as a mini-information pack to enable them to communicate if they are in difficulty.

Also Read:

Autism Non profit Organizations

Autism Developmental Resources

Key Apps for Autism

Autism Assessment Tools

Autism Teaching Strategy

Autism News

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1 thought on “Autism Awareness Pack”

  1. Hi I am a parent who is looking for resources that I can share on my page to educate autism awareness I also have 27 years of experience in the autism field and I am just wondering if I can post this PowerPoint on my page to help other parents or providers of children with Autism


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