Autism is a condition which affects the way a person responds to the world around them.
The label is given to people who have untypical social interactions, communication and have some restrictive and/or repetitive behaviour. It is called a spectrum condition because the symptoms of autism can vary such a lot from person to person.
Some Facts About Autism
- Autism affects about one child in every hundred(1)
- Around four times as many boys as girls are likely to be diagnosed with autism.
- For a diagnosis of autism, the behaviours must begin before the age of three.
Examples of Autism Spectrum Behaviours:
- Echoing words/phrases without context
- Taking an adult to the biscuit tin rather than asking or pointing
- Taking language too literally
- Preference to play alone
- Difficulty relating to other people
- Not understanding other’s thoughts and emotions
- Hand flapping
- Toe walking
- Spinning wheels
- Lining up cars
- Eating only yellow food
- Insisting on walking the same route
- Only watching Thomas the Tank Engine
Other Characteristics of Autism
People with autism may or may not have the following:
- Exceptional attention to detail
- Sensory differences, this is most noticeable when children are over-sensitive to stimuli e.g. distress at loud noises
- Trouble with co-ordination
- Unusual eating behaviour such as only eating certain foods
- Additional learning disabilities
- A very small percentage have unusual abilities for example with music or memory
(1) Baird, G et al (2006). Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP). The Lancet, 368 (9531), pp210-215