What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disorder which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. One in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.
Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses.
What does it mean to be diagnosed as Autistic?
Autistic people have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Some autistic people are unable to speak or have limited speech while other autistic people have very good language skills but struggle to understand sarcasm or tone of voice.
Autistic people often have difficulty ‘reading’ other people – recognising or understanding others’ feelings and intentions – and expressing their own emotions. This can make it very hard to navigate the social world.
Autistic people may also repeat movements such as hand flapping, rocking or the repetitive use of an object such as twirling a pen or opening and closing a door. Autistic people often engage in these behaviours to help calm themselves when they are stressed or anxious, but many autistic people do it because they find it enjoyable and they often prefer to have routines so that they know what is going to happen.
Autistic people may experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain. Many autistic people prefer not to hug due to discomfort, which can be misinterpreted as being cold and aloof.
Many autistic people have intense and highly focused interests, often from a fairly young age and being highly focused helps many autistic people do well academically and in the workplace.
When everything becomes too much for an autistic person, they can go into meltdown or shutdown. These are very intense and exhausting experiences.
There is a helpline that you can phone to get information about anything that you are worried about connected to autism. 0808 800 4104
CLICK HERE to read more about different aspects of Autism.