Autism is a condition that affects how an individual communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.
Autistic children and young people vary enormously but they all share the two 'core' features of autism:
- persistent difficulties with social communicationautisticand social interaction. For example, they may find it hard to begin or carry on a conversation, they may not understand social rules such as how far to stand from somebody else, or they may find it difficult to make friends.
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. For example, they may develop an overwhelming interest in something, they may follow inflexible routines or rituals, they may make repetitive body movements, or they may be hypersensitive to certain sounds.
Autistic children and young people also have significant strengths. These often include reliability, a good eye for detail, producing highly accurate work, an excellent memory for facts and figures, and the ability to thrive in a structured, well-organised work environment.
More about Autism
Getting a diagnosis of autism can be a positive thing. It means you have an explanation for some of the difficulties your child may be experiencing, and it may also give you access to services and support.
The process of getting a diagnosis varies from country to country and sometimes even within the same country. In the UK you start the process by contacting your GP or health visitor who will then refer you on to more specialist services.
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Autistic children and young people - and their parents and carers- face many issues and challenges on a day to day basis. Some issues - such as difficulties with communication or excessive anxiety - affect many people with autism, whatever their age. Other issues - such as finding the right school - are more likely to affect children with autism.
However it is important to remember that each child is a unique individual, with unique needs and abilities. Because of this, he or she will experience those issues in a unique way or may not experience them at all.
There are a number of interventions - treatments and therapies - that are designed to improve the quality of life for autistic children and young people. There are also some interventions that are designed to improve the quality of life of parents and carers.
However there is no one-size fits all solution. Each child or young person is a unique individual, with unique needs and abilities. The most effective interventions are personalised to meet the unique characteristics of each individual.
As the parent or carer of an autistic person living in the UK you have some legal rights, especially if your child has a formal diagnosis of autism. This is because the government considers autism to be a disability.
Many countries provide services to help autistic children and young people, although the range and qualify of those services varies enormously between countries and may even vary within the same country.
Some services - such as some specialist schools - are specifically designed to help autistic children. Other services are designed to help a range of people, irrespective of their age or disability
More Autism forums
NICE (the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) is a UK agency which provides national guidance and advice to improve health and social care.
NICE has produced a range of clinical guidance on the topic of children and young people on the autism spectrum
Please see Useful Resources on Autism for a list of additional resources inc.apps, blogs, events, journals, podcasts and videos.