What is Autism?

Autism is a spectrum condition that encapsulates lifelong developmental disabilities/differences which may affect how people with the condition communicate and interact with the world. Autism may affect different people in different ways. 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

Many people who were diagnosed with Asperger's would now be referred to as having an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  The term Asperger's is no longer widely used but it is up to individuals to choose how they wish to identify, often this is seen as a fundamental part of their identity. People with ASD may generally see, hear, and feel the world differently from others. Some with ASD may have other co-occurrent mental health conditions and therefore may require different levels of support.

Autism Traits

Some common traits which can be found in those who are on the autistic spectrum include:

  • Differences on how they communicate - may find elements of social interaction challenging.
  • anxiety in social situations
  • a strong preference for routine
  • a dislike of sudden or unexpected changes
  • requiring instructions and directions to be clear, direct, and concise
  • challenges in coping with noisy or crowded environments
  • taking things  literally

Other signs of autism can include:

  • avoiding eye contact
  • getting upset when someone is in their personal space (getting too close or touching them)
According to the NHS, whilst autism is not gendered and can affect all genders including nonbinary people. Autistic traits can show differently in those who identify as women. For example, autistic women may be quieter, hide their feelings, and appear to cope better with social situations.

It is important to remember, like with all disabilities including other forms of neurodivergance, to focus on the strengths of those who present with autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) rather than the weaknesses. Some of these strengths may include:

  • being highly focused
  • excellent attention to detail
  • strong technical skills
  • methodical and logical
  • identifying things that might be missed by others
  • creative thinking
  • problem-solving
  • new skills and insights
  • determination and tenacity