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:

Communication

  • Echoing words/phrases without context
  • Taking an adult to the biscuit tin rather than asking or pointing
  • Taking language too literally

Social Interactions

  • Preference to play alone
  • Difficulty relating to other people
  • Not understanding other’s thoughts and emotions

Repetitive behaviours

  • Hand flapping
  • Toe walking
  • Spinning wheels
  • Lining up cars

Restrictive behaviour

  • 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