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What is Autism?
What is Autism

It is estimated that approximately 1.1% of the UK population may be on the autism spectrum. Males are statistically 4.5 times more likely to receive an diagnosis than females.

Autism Defined

Autism is a developmental disability that affects how a person communicates, relates to others, and adapts to the world around them. It is characterised by difficulties with language, social interaction and restrictive or repetitive behaviours.

Autism can impact communication, independence and the way a person sees and experiences the world around them.

Lily Stadlober

Signs of ASD

The characteristics of autism vary from person to person. Signs of autism are often apparent during a child’s first two years (learn more about the signs of autism here). Currently, there is no identified single cause of autism. As a parent, diagnosis or even suspicion of autism can be terrifying, however early intervention (more about Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention (EIBI)) can play a major role in ensuring that the child will go on to develop the essential skills necessary to lead a life with meaningful opportunities.

Early Signs to Look For

  • Delayed speech development, including babbling
  • Delays in gesturing such as pointing or waving
  • Repetition in language, movement or activities
  • Atypical eye contact such as not responding to sounds or their name

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) is used by clinicians during diagnosis.

2 DSM-5 Classifications

Persistent deficits in social communication and social interactions across multiple contexts.

For example:

  • Reduced sharing of interests or emotions and not responding or initiating social interaction
  • Reduced eye contact, and not understanding body language or gestures
  • Difficulty making and sustaining friendships, imaginative play and adjusting behaviour to match the environment.
Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests or activities.

For example:

  • Repetitive motor movements, use of objects or speech
  • Insistence and sameness, inflexible to changes in routine, and rigid thinking
  • Restricted and fixated interests
  • Sensitive to sensitive input, or unusual interest in sensory aspects of the environment