What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong neurological condition which affects social interaction and communication and can also lead to restricted and repetitive behaviour. The NHS estimates that around one in every 100 people in the UK is autistic. Autistic people may be given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Aspergers. More men than women are diagnosed with autism. This is thought to be partly because women manage the condition differently than men.
Every child and every person with autism is different and the characteristics can vary widely as it is a spectrum disorder, but there are two main diagnostic characteristics;
- Difficulties with social communication and interaction.
- Repetitive behaviour and body movements and behaviour restricted by routine or fixed activities.
If you have any concerns that your child may have autism the first port of call is your GP or health visitor. They should carry out assessments and refer you to an autism professional for diagnosis if appropriate.
Research shows that early intervention of evidence-based therapies such as Behaviour Analysis are most effective to teach children with autism and help them to reach their full potential.*
Autism is currently understood to be a disorder in the way the child’s brain develops. Some children’s brains don’t develop in a way than enables them easily to figure out what’s going around them, what other people are doing, and how to respond, or say what they want.
For many years this was thought to be a permanent disability, but we now know that the development can be re-started and carried on by appropriate teaching methods.
In the same way that children who have poor sense of balance or hearing can be taught to walk and hear better, so autistic children can be taught how to understand what’s going on around them, how to tell people what they want, and how to respond to others.
If the intervention is early enough, and parents and clinicians get a good understanding of the child’s behaviour, it’s possible in many cases for the for a child to develop to lead a fulfilling and independent life.