What is Autism?

Autism is a hugely misunderstood condition. When learning about autism it is really important that you have a clear understanding of what it is and what it is not.

 

Autism is a neuro developmental condition

Autism is a neuro developmental condition which effects approximately 1% of the population. Autism is known as a spectrum disorder and every person with autism has their own unique presentation (the way they behave, things they struggle with, interests and how they communicate). This means there are no 2 people who look or behave exactly the same way, even though both are autistic.

 

There are two characteristics of autism that need to be present to receive a diagnosis. The first is an impairment in social communication and interaction and the second are rigid and repetitive behaviours. These must be accompanied with challenges in sensory processing.

 

Autism is not

In order to understand Autism and in turn to be able to help and support those with a diagnosis, it is essential to understand what autism is not.

 

  • Autism is not a behavioural disorder

  • Autism is not a learning disability

  • Autism is not a psychiatric or mental health illness.

 

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Autism is a spectrum

The autism spectrum is vast, as are the needs of every autistic individual and the advice given to parents and carers are as varied. We deliberated long and hard over how we could devise a clear way to ensure that we were able to offer relevant support to families who may all be experiencing different things.

 

We have designed 5 profiles, each which have a different level of need and demonstrate different presentations of autism. For more of an explanation about why we created these profiles, read our news article here.

We are not expecting you to be able to match exactly your child’s needs to one of our generic profiles but we hope that they are useful in signposting you to get the help and support you need. 

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What are co-morbidities?

Autism does however often present with other conditions known as co-morbidities. This wide range of presentations and co-morbidities means that to understand autism you need to have a very open mind and look carefully at the individual in question rather than using a standard set of guidance and rules.

 

Autism is a lifelong condition and children with autism become adults with autism although there will be changes in the individuals’ presentation through different life stages. Some people with autism will have very complex needs and intellectual disabilities meaning that they require lifelong care needs, whilst others will live indendently and have high flying careers.

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Autability profiles
 

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  • Diagnosis of autism

  • Attends mainstream school

  • Average/high IQ

  • Sensory difficulties

  • Difficulties with social interaction and communication

  • Anxiety and mental health problems

  • Sleep problems

  • Needs routine

  • Toilet trained (may be slightly delayed)

  • Motor planning problems 

  • Lack of danger awareness

  • Diagnosis autism and ADHD

  • Attends mainstreram school (with extra support if needed)

  • Average/high IQ

  • Sensory difficulties

  • Difficulties with social interaction and communication

  • Anxiety and mental health problems

  • Sleep problems

  • Needs routine

  • Toilet trained (may be slightly delayed)

  • Motor planning problems 

  • Lack of danger awareness

  • Diagnosis of autism, ADHD, dyslexia and dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder)

  • Attends mainstream school with support or a specialist provision

  • Average/high IQ

  • Sensory difficulties

  • Difficulties with social interaction and communication

  • Anxiety and mental health problems

  • Sleep problems

  • Needs routine

  • Toilet trained (may be slightly delayed)

  • Lack of danger awareness

  • Diagnosis of autism, ADHD, dyselxia OR hyperlexia, dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder), complex sensory integration problems, sleep disorder

  • Attends specialist provision

  • Low/average/high IQ

  • Sensory difficulties

  • Difficulties with social interaction and communication

  • Anxiety and mental health problems

  • Needs routine

  • Late toilet training/partial incontinence 

  • Lack of danger awareness

  • Diagnosed sleep disorder with hospital intervention and regular follow ups

  • Diagnosis of autism, ADHD, sleep disorder, dyspraxia (Developmental Coordination Disorder), epilepsy, auto immune condition, Ehlos Danlos syndrome, Depression

  • Attends specialist provision

  • Intellectual disability (low IQ)

  • Sensory difficulties

  • Difficulties with social interaction and communication

  • Anxiety and mental health problems

  • Needs routine

  • Doubly incontinent for life

  • Lack of danger awareness

  • Diagnosed sleep disorder with hospital intervention and regular follow ups

  • Mental health illness

  • Physical disability and/or medical condition