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What is autism?

 

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.

The three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share are sometimes known as the 'triad of impairments'. They are:

  • difficulty with social communication
  • difficulty with social interaction
  • difficulty with social imagination


Additionally, people with autism may have a love of routines; special interests; and experience over or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.

Autism is part of the autism spectrum and is sometimes referred to as an autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or an autism spectrum condition (ASC). There are many other conditions that are also thought to be part of the autism spectrum, these include: high functioning autism; pervasive developmental disorders; atypical autism; and Asperger syndrome.

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
You can read more about what autism is and how it affects people on the National Autistic Society Webpage.

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