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Adaptation of the environment of a person with Autism Spectrum disorder
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Family. Each person with ASD will need their environment to be adapted to a different degree in function of their symptoms and the severity of these symptoms. And so children with autism who have not developed language, who suffer from an associated intellectual disability and/or have another psychiatric disorder, are generally those who require the largest adjustments to their environment and will most likely continue to need this adaptation throughout their lives. On the other hand, many people with high-functioning autism and no other associated psychiatric disorders can function adaptively without the need for many environmental adjustments. Whatever the case may be, problems associated with social comprehension and reciprocal communication, plus the presence of repetitive behaviours or inflexibility, often imply the need for varying degrees of environmental adaptation.
The family environment is perhaps the first setting where the need for adaptation becomes evident. Therefore many families of children with autism develop different parenting strategies for their children with ASD, such as restructuring timetables, activities or sometimes even physical spaces around the home. The family’s understanding of the disorder, particularly that of the parents, is essential for optimal family functioning and so support groups for parents of children with ASD are of particular interest.
School. Practically all children and adolescents with ASD require adaptations in their school environments. Individuals with very severe symptoms or who have other associated disorders or disabilities require a high degree of adaptation and frequently require the intervention of special education teachers, either in the setting of a regular school or in special needs schools.
Nevertheless, even in the case of high-functioning children and adolescents with an average or above-average intellectual level, teachers often need to make certain adaptations to their teaching methodologies because characteristics such as inflexibility, literal thinking or social comprehension difficulties still have an impact on these individual’s school function.
What is more, generally speaking measures to facilitate socialisation with classmates or to reduce disruptive behaviours are also required. Later in life, as these adolescents with ASD start to become adults, they tend to seek out environments that are more in line with their interests and strong points, which can help achieve a greater level of academic and/or occupational adaptation.