What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured‘. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing. (taken from the National Autistic Society)

All people who are on the spectrum share certain diagnostic features. These are commonly known as the ‘triad of impairments’. This means that they all share difficulties with social interaction, social communication, and with imagination, flexible thinking and possible sensory difficulties. Despite all sharing these characteristics, all will present very differently and hence it is important for the individual to receive a profile of their strengths and needs. Our comprehensive report and recommendations can be shared with schools, employers or anyone else working with you in order to ensure a greater understanding or the needs of the individual.

You may have heard of other so called ‘types’ of autism, however the diagnosis given is that of ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’. There are different profiles of behaviour within the spectrum such as the female presentation, the profile that used to be known as Asperger’s Syndrome, and Pathological Demand Avoidance. If relevant these can be discussed during your post assessment feedback session.

Useful Links

NICE Guidance : Autism spectrum disorder in adults: diagnosis and management: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg142

NICE Guidance : Autism spectrum disorder in under 19s: recognition, referral and diagnosis: https://www.nice.org.uk/guidance/cg128

The National Autistic Society: www.autism.org.uk

Autism Act 2009: https://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/2009/15/contents


Pablo (CBeebies animated series staring an autistic character and all-autistic core cast): http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediacentre/latestnews/2017/pablo

Chris Packham Documentary: Asperger’s and Me: