Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Autism, or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is a complex lifelong neurological condition affecting nearly one in a hundred people.
ASD is an umbrella term that includes:
Classic autism or Kanner’s autism
Related conditions include pervasive developmental disorder and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified PDD-NOS (also known as atypical autism) and semantic pragmatic disorder.
The key thing parents need to know about getting an autism diagnosis is that early diagnosis is key to appropriate intervention and support in order for each child to reach their full potential.
Autism is a life long condition which affects children’s development in all areas. It has to be present before age three and affects four times as many boys as girls. In recent years there has been an apparent increase in the number of children and young people said to be on the autistic spectrum.
Children with autism cross the ability range. Some can be gifted in different subject areas but the majority have difficulties relating to other people, many may never learn to speak and may never be independent. This wide range is called the autistic spectrum. At its most profound, people with autism may be disruptive and unpredictable and may be aggressive to others and/or themselves and their environment. They may seem to be living in a world of their own. Without the appropriate support provided at home or school, their lives, and those of others who care for them, particularly families, can be extremely stressful.
Children with autism have difficulties in three main areas:
- Social skills such as making friends and interacting with other people
- Communication – explaining how they feel and think including problems with speech and other ways of communicating, such as facial expressions and gestures. Some children simply do not learn to talk
- Imagination – understanding that other people have thoughts and feelings. Children with autism can be very rigid and may have fixations on different objects or topics
Children with autism have an individual way of looking at the world. Some have particular strengths such as an ability to focus on detail and concentrate for a long while on one thing; some have a talent for learning facts and particular skills. Many have quite severe deficits in all three main areas.
Children with autism may react differently to sounds, sights, smell, touch and taste, which affects their response to these sensations. They may also have unusual sleep patterns and behaviour.