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 specialist support. People with autism may also experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
The brains of people with autism do not function as they should. They function in a different way and this makes it difficult for them to understand certain things and they often interpret things in a different way. Usually most people are born with their autism. A lot of research has been done into the causes of autism but so far no single reason has been isolated.
More than 1 person in a family may have autism. It can be genetic.
There is no known 'cure' for autism. This does not mean, however, that nothing can be done for a person with autism.
Our understanding of autism has grown tremendously since it was first identified in the 1940s, and as we learn more about the condition, more interventions will undoubtedly become available.
Because autism is a 'spectrum' disorder it affects different people in different ways. It is therefore very difficult to generalise about how a person with autism will develop over time. It is particularly important to realise that an intervention which works well with one individual may not be appropriate or effective with another.
The symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Both children and adults can exhibit any combination of autistic behaviours in varying degrees of severity . This means that two children, both with the same diagnosis, can act very differently from one another and have varying skills.
They may not speak. But they may use things like pictures or sign language to communicate.
There is a type of autism called Asperger syndrome.
People with Asperger syndrome usually do not have learning disabilities but they find the same things difficult as people with autism.
Some people with Asperger syndrome find these things difficult.