What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to others. Many people with autism have a learning disability but all will have difficulty in making sense of the world.
The range and severity of autism can vary greatly which is why it is also referred to as autism spectrum disorder. Autism is not a condition that can be seen and does not have physical features.
What are the characteristics of autism?
All people with autism have problems with social interaction, social communication and imagination. They are referred to as the ‘triad of impairments’ by clinicians.
Social Interaction – People with autism tend to be socially isolated and have difficulty forming social relationships. They may seem distant or uncaring to others.
Social communication – People with autism have problems with verbal and non-verbal communication. They also have problems with understanding feelings, emotions or vague concepts. They are unable to give what is considered appropriate eye contact and have difficulty in understanding gestures and facial expressions.
Imagination – People with autism have difficulty in the development of play and imagination, and find it difficult to take part in pretend play. They prefer stability and dislike changes in routine.