Autism is a lifelong condition that affects the way in which a person communicates and relates to the people around them and also affects they way in which the world is perceived and thus how they make sense of it.
It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and mental health issues and need a lifetime of specialist support. This depends on severity of the individual’s autism,
There are 3 main areas of impairment:
Communication: ASD can affect both verbal and non-verbal skills. People with autism that do speak may have complicated speech patterns – using odd phrases and words etc… They may also have difficulties with body language, including problems using and reading body language and gestures. They can also face problems following instructions.
Social: People with autism may have difficulties in relating to other people and understanding the emotions of others. They may for example show little interest in other people and seem distant, detached and will avoid eye contact. They can also avoid physical contact and affection. People with ASD will generally prefer spending time alone.
Imagination: People living with autism will often have set routines and obsessions, they tend to be rigid in their like and dislikes and in how they go about their day. This inflexibility can lead to difficulties coping with change, planning for the future and managing new situations.
Additionally, people with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
Asperger syndrome is a part of the autism spectrum. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They tend to excel in their areas of interest. They have fewer problems with speech, they do not experience delayed language development when young, but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language. Often Asperger Syndrome is viewed as autism without a learning disability.
If you are particularly interested in autism, check out The National Autistic Society’s website: http://www.autism.org.uk/