Autism – Find out more about it and support links
What is autism
The benefits of a diagnosisGetting a timely and thorough assessment and diagnosis may be helpful because:
- it helps autistic people (and their families, partners, employers, colleagues, teachers and friends) to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them
- it allows people to access services and support.
How autism is diagnosedThe characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning“. Read more about diagnostic criteria and the triad of impairments theory.
Social CommunicationAutistic people have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Many have a very literal understanding of language, and think people always mean exactly what they say. They may find it difficult to use or understand:
- facial expressions
- tone of voice
- jokes and sarcasm.
Social interactionAutistic 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 for them to navigate the social world. They may:
- appear to be insensitive
- seek out time alone when overloaded by other people
- not seek comfort from other people
- appear to behave ‘strangely’ or in a way thought to be socially inappropriate.
Repetitive Behaviour And RoutinesThe world can seem a very unpredictable and confusing place to autistic people, who often prefer to have a daily routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. They may want to always travel the same way to and from school or work, or eat exactly the same food for breakfast. The use of rules can also be important. It may be difficult for an autistic person to take a different approach to something once they have been taught the ‘right’ way to do it. People on the autism spectrum may not be comfortable with the idea of change, but may be able to cope better if they can prepare for changes in advance.
Highly – Focused InterestsMany autistic people have intense and highly-focused interests, often from a fairly young age. These can change over time or be lifelong, and can be anything from art or music, to trains or computers. An interest may sometimes be unusual. One autistic person loved collecting rubbish, for example. With encouragement, the person developed an interest in recycling and the environment. Many channel their interest into studying, paid work, volunteering, or other meaningful occupation. Autistic people often report that the pursuit of such interests is fundamental to their wellbeing and happiness.
Sensory SensitivityAutistic people may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain. For example, they may find certain background sounds, which other people ignore or block out, unbearably loud or distracting. This can cause anxiety or even physical pain. Or they may be fascinated by lights or spinning objects. Read more about repetitive behaviour and routines and sensory processing. Designing the Perfect Home Playroom for Children with Autism ProductDiggers has super-helpful information and tips on how to design an ideal play space in your home for children with autism. Click here to Access their guide
Remodelling and retrofit your home
All About Accessibility Remodeling and Retrofits has created a primer on home remodelling and retrofits for seniors and individuals with special needs. click here to access their website
Different names for AutismOver the years, different diagnostic labels have been used, such as autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), classic autism, Kanner autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), high-functioning autism (HFA), Asperger syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). This reflects the different diagnostic manuals and tools used, and the different autism profiles presented by individuals. Because of recent and upcoming changes to the main diagnostic manuals, ‘autism spectrum disorder’ (ASD) is now likely to become the most commonly given diagnostic term. Read more about different diagnostic profiles, terms and criteria.
Causes and cures
What causes autism?The exact cause of autism is still being investigated. Research into causes suggests that a combination of factors – genetic and environmental – may account for differences in development. Autism is not caused by a person’s upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition.
Is there a cure?There is no ‘cure’ for autism. However, there is a range of strategies and approaches – methods of enabling learning and development – which people may find to be helpful.
Medication Management for People with Disabilities,
It’s not uncommon for folks with a disability to be placed on an extensive medication regimen. We created this guide to educate people on how to safely simplify this often complicated process. The guide offers practical advice on:
How disabilities might impact medication management
How to accurately read medication labels
Tips on medication organisation and storage
Medication safety tips and dosage information
Downloadable medication management charts
And much more
This guide covers important tips and tricks for people with disabilities and their caregivers to properly handle prescriptions. Click Here to access the Guide
- spreading understanding about autism – sign up to support our Too Much Information campaign
- donating so we can continue to give millions of people information and advice about support
- volunteering in one of our schools, care services or offices
- fundraising for us.
- Autism Parenting Magazine – see article on – What Are the Signs of Autism in Girls – Is Asperger’s in Women Overlooked? and many more.
More useful links
- Students with Autism
- Guide to Helping Kids with Autism Sleep Better
- Autism Resource Center
- Creating an Autism Friendly Home
- Autism Support Network Resources
- Moving with Kids with Autism
- 30 Ways to Celebrate Autism Awareness Month
- Traveling with Kids with Autism
- Autism behind the wheel
- How to Calm a Child with Autism
- Create a Sensory Safe Yard for Children with Special Needs
- Sensory Processing Treatments
- Estate Planning for Parents of Kids with Autism
- Classroom Accommodations for Kids with Sensory Issues
- Moving with Special Needs Kids