When most people think about autism behaviors, they immediately remember the movie “Rain Man.” The autistic character in that movie is a pretty low functioning individual. He can not stand to be without a strict routine for even a moment, and can be thrown into panic at the smallest sign of something out of the ordinary. Although autistic behaviors can be that extreme or even worse, many people who suffer from autism have much more subtle patterns that are harder to spot.
Nowadays, there is a big drive to put more autism resources in the hands of parents. The reason is simple: schools and parents often miss the signs for months or even years after the onset of autism. This gives you an idea of how subtle autistic behavior can be. Less severe cases can simply look like social anxiety or even simple awkwardness, and parents often mistakenly assume that the kid will just outgrow it. Although autistic behaviors can be corrected to some degree, autism is not something that you can outgrow. Instead, the focus should be on giving the sufferer the skills he or she needs to successfully cope with the condition.
One of the things that many autistic behaviors have in common is an extremely negative reaction to anything that breaks up routine. Both autistic children and adults need extremely regular schedules to keep them functioning. Any break in routine is likely to cause stress, and sometimes even panic. The severity of this dependence on routine varies from person to person. For low-functioning autistic patients, it is so severe that only an institution can provide the needed structure. More high-functioning folks, by contrast, can live relatively normal lives.
One of the other common autistic behaviors is paralyzing social anxiety. Even making eye contact can be a terrifying experience for someone with autism. Just making small talk is out of the question for many folks. The interesting thing is that many autistics understand human relationships very well. They can watch movies and read books and understand what the characters are going through. They just can not actually engage in those same experiences because of the stress that social interaction puts them under. Even though it is something that still puzzles scientists, techniques have been made to help autistic people learn to interact in social situations with other folks. It is all just a matter of patience, practice, and a caring therapist.