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What is Autism?

Aspergers Syndrome, Pathological Demand Avoidance and High Functioning Autism all fall under the umbrella of Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I use the term ‘autism’ to include all diagnostic profiles. Autism affects more than one in 100 people in the UK alone ref 1. It usually becomes evident in early childhood however the disorder can be picked up well into adulthood.

Autism is a lifelong condition. It is not something that a person can outgrow. Children with autism grow up to become adults with autism. Autism is often referred to as a hidden disability as the individual does not ‘look disabled’.

Diagnosis is made when a person displays impairments in three areas: social interaction, social imagination and social communication. These areas are known as the Triad of Impairments. It affects how someone communicates, relates to others, experiences and makes sense of the world around them. The world can seem a very confusing and at times scary place. These difficulties can cause stress and anxiety, resulting in unwanted behaviour. This behaviour is often dismissed as naughtiness or due to bad parenting.

Although there is no cure for autism, with the right support the individual can make huge progress and lead happy, fulfilling lives.


1 The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha, T. et al (2012). Estimating the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in adults: extending the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care

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