What is Autism

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Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability, characterised by impairments in social communication, social interaction and flexibility of thought. Together, these difficulties will affect the way people with autism communicate and interact with the rest of the world. Individuals with autism may also experience difficulties with sensory integration. Our senses process information to help us function in daily life, which means these difficulties may result in stress, anxiety or challenging behaviour.

A diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder describes a range of disorders including Asperger’s Syndrome, childhood autism, High Functioning Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS). People with autism may also have an accompanying learning disability which affects intellectual functioning; learning difficulty such as dyslexia or dyspraxia; or mental health problem, including depression or anxiety.

Autism is a spectrum disorder and therefore manifests in a continuum of need. Whilst individuals with autism will share certain areas of difficulties, the level and complexity of need will vary between each individual. However, regardless of the level of need, the nature of autism is such that all areas of an individual’s life are likely to be affected due to the difficulties they experience in communicating, interacting and making sense of the world. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may face additional challenges, which affect them so profoundly that they need support in many areas throughout their lives.