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February 7, 2014

Chuska to participate in autism walk

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CHICKASHA —

Because those with autism tend to not make eye contact, they may come across as not caring and they often miss nonverbal cues. Because they tend to not be emotional when they communicate and not pick up on emotional verbal cues, speaking in a matter-of-fact tone may incur a better response than an emotional one, Davis said. 

They also have trouble with verbal cues and tend to take things very literally. 

"If you tell an autistic child that it's raining cats and dogs, they will go looking for cats and dogs outside," Helton said. 

Helton said if there is one thing she would like teachers and parents to understand, it's that autism is often misdiagnosed as oppositional defiant disorder. 

Part of the reason for this is that autistic children have trouble transitioning. They feel they must complete a task, Helton said. 

For example, if a child is doing a math lesson in class, but does not finish before having to transition to another subject, the child is still doing math in his head, Helton said. 

The autistic child may also gravitate towards one topic or hobby that becomes almost an obsession. They will want to know all there is to know about that thing. 

Characters with autism and who fall within the autistic spectrum are seen more in popular culture. 

Helton and Davis citied Shelton off of "Big Bang Theory" and Max from "Parenthood" as examples. While Shelton's character is overtly stated as having autism, he displays behaviors consistent with someone who may fall within the spectrum. 

For example, he cannot have french toast on oatmeal day, even when it is made for him and he agrees that it looks appealing. He throw it in the trash and as he does so notes that it's "too bad it's oatmeal day." 

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