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Learn more about mild autism spectrum disorder

Mild ASD may show language or learning delays and often are highly gifted in areas such as math, art, music or engineering. However, many report a gap between their intelligence and difficulties with life skills including social interactions.

Autism, as a whole, occurs on a very broad continuum, and the same is true for individuals on the mild end of the scale. However, experts have identified some recurring themes among these uniquely gifted individuals:

-     Fixated interests and repetitive behavior
-     Inconsistent attention and memory
-     Difficulty with reading and following directions
-     Inflexible thinking, resistance to change
-     Poor planning and time management
-     Sensory overload (sound sensitivity, aversion to certain foods, intolerance for textures)
-     Problems socializing (awkward mannerisms, inapproriate eye contact, one-sided conversations, inappropriate volume and use of language skills)
-     Difficulty learning from mistakes

Individuals with mild ASD also commonly struggle with what we call “pragmatics” – aka the use of appropriate communication in social situations (knowing what to say, how to say it, and when to say it). Examples of pragmatics might include learning to greet a boss differently than you would a family member, reading the other person’s non-verbal cues and adjusting by tone or volume, or responding to a speaker’s comments appropriately.

Those with mild ASD will hear and process language very literally, often missing sarcasm, irony or subtext. The processing of meaning is often black and white. If we tell a patient they are expected to come in prepared to work through the hour, he may interpret that to mean he cannot take a restroom break, regardless of how badly he needs one. This patient may struggle to correctly interpret other people’s body language or facial expressions, which can lead to frequent misunderstandings.

They may experience a disconnect in how their comments or actions could hurt or offend others. These slights are never deliberate. Instead, this is a phenomenon known as “mind blindness” – in other words, the inability to place themselves in another person’s shoes or navigate the unwritten communication norms that most of us learned early on and now take for granted.

Patients may also avoid self-care behaviors, especially if those behaviors that are uncomfortable to them (remember their heightened sensory sensitivity), or simply don’t seem important to them. A student could be the brightest person in her professor’s organic chemistry course, but get a 40 percent final grade because she doesn’t see the point of attending class or taking tests. 

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Learn more about mild autism spectrum disorder
Qualified Therapists

Our dedicated team of speech-language pathologists are specially trained in speech therapy as it relates to cognitive-communication issues (how you listen, process, focus, remember, and communicate). We are also nationally certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, are nationally recognized by the Brain Injury Association of America and are Certified Brain Injury Specialists (CBIS). We are licensed to practice in both North Dakota and Minnesota. We believe every patient deserves the best treatment and support we can offer in every single contact and interaction with us.

Individual Approach

We recognize that no two people have the same needs and that everyone has different learning styles. That’s why we like to call our approach “the Progressive way,” which means we will happily customize treatment plans to meet the unique needs of the individual and their family. We also believe in “the right fit” between patient and therapist, so will make every effort to match you with a clinician who connects with you, understands you, and utilizes a therapy style that is comfortable for you.

We are here to help

Depending on the goals you wish to accomplish and the learning pace that is most comfortable for you, we will arm you with the evidence-based strategies, proven skills, and ample support you need to feel more organized, prepared, and effective. Therapy strategies may range from recommendations for specific tools (such as timers or planners), one-on-one brainstorming and problem-solving to address concerns, therapeutic activities as well as computer trials or worksheets to help strengthen cognitive and executive functions like attention, memory, and planning.

Coaching with compassion

We know that working on cognitive-communication issues is hard work and that it can be easy to feel defeated or overwhelmed by the challenges of building a more efficient brain. However, you will not be in this alone. We are not just speech-language pathologists; we are fellow human beings who care about you, your journey, and your success. We don’t want an appointment to feel like you’ve been sent to the principal’s office. Instead, you’ll find a comfortable space where you’ll feel listened to and understood. And because humor makes everything more bearable, be prepared to laugh and joke a bit too!