Understanding Autism

TOUCH Centre for Independent Living

Understanding Autism

What is autism? Can it be cured? Are people with autism constantly living in their own world? TOUCH Centre for Independent Living (TCIL) shines light on the condition as we commemorate World Autism Month in April.

Also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism is a lifelong developmental condition characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and non-verbal communication.

The signs and symptoms of autism differ from person to person, but are typically related to challenges in social communication and restricted, repetitive behaviours. The six most common traits of people with autism are:

  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Preference to be alone/in solitude
  • Poor and inconsistent social engagements
  • Impaired communication (Difficulty in understanding what is said to them, repetitive use of certain words/phrases, difficulty in expressing their needs/wants)
  • Repetitive behaviour (Hand flapping, body rocking, etc.)
  • Abnormal responses to sensory stimulation (eg. Overly fascinated with spinning objects, must smell everything, act as if deaf, demonstrate abnormally high pain tolerance etc.)

Most people can recognise some of the symptoms when they meet someone with autism. However, there are still many misconceptions about the condition. TCIL busts five myths surrounding autism:

Autism can be outgrown.
Autism stems from biological conditions, affecting the brain’s development. Children with autism do not outgrow it but symptoms may lessen or change with appropriate intervention.

All individuals with autism spectrum disorder have special talent or ‘savant’ skills.
Only an estimated 10% of people with autism may have special abilities in areas such as music, art, mathematical calculations, memory and manual dexterity.
The majority of them may perform extremely well in certain areas that relate to their special interests. Often referred to as ‘splinter skills’, they are usually not consistent with skills in other areas of development.

Individuals with autism avoid social contact.
Individuals with autism are often keen to make friends but may find it difficult to do so. Since they struggle with social skills, they are unable to communicate their desire for relationships the same way as we do and often make mistakes.

Autism can be cured.
There is currently no known cure for autism unless the symptoms have an underlying cause that can be treated. Individuals with autism respond very well to early adjustments made to focus on the unique learning style of students with autism.

People with autism do not have feelings and are thus unable to show affection.
People with autism can and do show affection. However, due to differences in sensory processing and social understanding, they communicate and perceive emotions in different ways. This causes the display of affection to appear different from typical people.


Does your adult child have mild intellectual disabilities? Want to equip him/her with functional knowledge and skills for independent living in the community? Have a chat with TOUCH Centre for Independent Living’s Lifeskills Coaches at 6741 6364 or visit the website for more information.      

TOUCH Centre for Independent Living (TCIL) is a day activity centre for persons with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities, providing basic training in daily living skills and personal social skills to empower them in building independence in their daily living. TCIL adopts a holistic approach in working with and training its trainees, believing that each one of them is capable of achieving their highest potential when given the chance to live an independent life. Special programmes like TOUCH SpecialCrafts also seek to activate the artistic potential in trainees and enable them to showcase their works through direct sales, auctions and charity fairs.