The Triads of Impairments for Autism

The Triads of Impairments for Autism


Autism is a spectrum disorder ranging from less severe to the most severe forms.  It is therefore important to educate the general public not to generalize or stereo-type the disorder.  

As early as 1943, Leo Kanner, a physician published some characteristics of children with autism such as aloof, lack play, llack of language and communication skills and rigid to change. Today, we refer those as Kanner’s classic.  In 1996, Dr Lorna Wing, formulated the idea of an autistic spectrum where autism cannot be seen as a ‘pure’ or simply defined condition.


3 Triads of Impairments

Every person having autism is very different but do they share impairments in 3 distinct areas which is known as the Triad of Impairments :

  1. Social Interaction
  2. Social Language and Communication
  3. Flexibility of thought and Imagination


Impairment of Social Interaction

Aloof is the word often linked to the most severe form of autism.   They can be seen as indifferent to other people.   Children with ASD can be seen playing on their own even if they are surrounded by other children. 

For less severe form, they do not mind social contact and may even find pleasure in doing so.   However, they will usually not make a spontaneous approach to others and usually doing it passively.   Some may show little preference for any one person in particular and if he wants anything he might merely take it from other’s person hand without asking.

You may find some children with ASD behave in an odd and inappropriate way socially.   They may take no notice of other person’s responses.


Impairment of Social Communication

Children with ASD may have some social communication issues of varying degrees.   They can vary from those without much language problem to those whose language is delayed, disordered or even absent. 

For some of them, they may not be able to use or recognize gestures, body languages, intonation or facial expression as a form of communication.   Some will have delayed or problem understanding what they hear and have a tendency to take language literally.

Most children with ASD will have great challenge to express their feelings or thoughts or understanding these in other people.    Some lacks the understanding that others have thoughts and feelings on their own which might explain why they often appear insensitive to the feelings of others.


Impairment of Imagination

The lack of imagination in some children with ASD could be observed by their inability to play imaginatively with toys or other people.    In other cases, they may be focusing on part rather than whole.   For example, they may be turning the wheel of a toy car instead of playing with the car itself.

Some children are confused with reality and dream, from fiction and fact.  They may tell things or stories that they believe to be true and this usually are mistaken as them telling lies.


4th Impairment

On top of these impairment, it is said by the people who themselves have autism that they have impairments of sensory processing and motor skills.  Some of the people may have some differences in the way the sensory information (which include pain) is experienced.    There is also a tendency to clumsiness and lack of coordination especially in the use of fine motor skills.    For example, it is usual to find the children with ASD have difficulty to cut nicely along the dotted lines or button their shirts.


Other Basics of Autism

You may also want to browse through

    A quick introduction to Autism
    Symptom of Autism Part 1
    Symptom of Autism Part 2
    Is It Necessary To Send My Child For Therapy?
    When to do Autism Examination and Assessment test?
    FAQ on Autism



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