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Triad of Impairments

This triad is typically associated with a narrow, repetitive pattern of activities and resistance to change in things that directly affect the individual concerned and manifests with an impairment in the quality of development in the following areas:- .


  • Little awareness of the existence of others, or of their feelings;
  • Poor or absent ability to make appropriate social contact;
  • The most severe form is aloofness and indifference to others, although most show an attachment on a simple level to parents or carers;
  • Indifference to or dislike of being held, cuddled or touched;
  • Difficulty in forming appropriate relationships with peers or others;
  • In less severe forms, the individual passively accepts social contact, even showing some pleasure in this, though he or she may not make spontaneous approaches;
  • Prefers to play alone


  • The development of speech and language may be abnormal, delayed or absent;
  • Minimal reaction to verbal input and sometimes acts as though deaf;
  • The presence of, or understanding of facial expressions and / or gestures may be unusual or absent;
  • Repetition of words, questions, phrases and/or sentences over and over again; Endless monologues about their special interest, without adapting to the needs of the listener
  • Words and phrases may be used incorrectly;
  • Production of speech may be unusual. A flat monotonous tone or inappropriate variations in tone are often noted;
  • Those who are verbal, may be fascinated with words and word games, but do not use their vocabulary as a tool for social interaction and reciprocal communication;
  • Difficulties in initiating and or taking part in conversations


  • Imaginative play may be limited or poor, e.g. cannot play with a wooden block, as if it is a toy car;
  • A tendency to focus on minor or trivial aspects of things in the environment, instead of an imaginative understanding of the meaning of the whole scene;
  • May display a limited range of imaginative activities, which you may well find have actually been copied off the TV etc.;
  • Pursues activities repetitively and cannot be influenced by suggestions of change;
  • Play may appear complex, but close observation, shows its rigidity and stereotyped pattern;
  • Unusual habits such as rocking, spinning, finger-flicking, continual fiddling with objects, spinning objects, tapping and scratching on surfaces, or arranging objects in lines or patterns etc;
  • Inappropriate use of toys in play;
  • Holding onto objects, e.g.carrying a piece of wool for the whole day;
  • Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity;
  • Tantrums may occur for no apparent reason;
  • Changes in routine or environment, e.g. a change of route to school or altering the placement of equipment in the classroom, may cause distress;
  • Interests and range of activities may be limited, e.g. only interested in puzzles;
  • A small percentage of learners have abilities that are outstanding in relation to their overall functioning, e.g. exceptional memory in a specific field of interest;
Reprinted by permission of The Autism Societe of South Africa Jill Stacey Note: The resources above is given on an information only basis. It is not to be construed as an endorsement by Puterakembara of any of the profesionals, treatments, opinions, publications or products offered by those mentioned above

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