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. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
Signs and symptoms
Even though there are a wide range of symptoms associated with Autistic Spectrum Disorder/Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASD/ASC), they are often grouped into two main categories.
- Problems surrounding social interaction, an inability to emphasize with another’s emotions, an inability to start or finish conversations or an awareness of the subtleties of conversation such as when to speak and when to listen.
- Repetitive movements of the body, twisting or picking of threads, limited and repetitive thought patterns and interests and signs of agitation if these patterns are not followed.
Other conditions are often associated with individuals who have ASD, such as depression, anxiety and ADHD.
People with ASD/ASC may or may not have an associated learning disability.