It is estimated that 500,000 families throughout the UK are affected by autistic spectrum disorders or child autism, according to figures from the National Autistic Society. This page contains a wealth of autism information including autism symptoms, autism facts and links to relevant articles, jobs and organisations.
What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects the way a person communicates and relates to people around them.
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People with autism tend to lack the capacity to understand emotional expression. Those with autism may have an accompanying learning difficulty. There are various autism types – many outlined in this article. Autism treatment is currently not available as there is no cure for autism but child autism can be helped by early diagnosis.
People with autism tend to have difficulties with:
• Social interaction – difficulty with social relationships
• Social communication – difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication
• Social imagination – having a limited range of imaginative activities.
Repetitive behaviour and resistance to change are other common factors.
What causes autism?
The causes of autism are still being investigated although there is strong evidence to suggest that autism can be caused by a variety of physical factors which affect the brain. There is also evidence to suggest that genetic factors are responsible for some forms of autism.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome experience the same difficulties as those with autism including social interaction, social communication and social imagination, but people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with language than those with autism. People with Asperger do not tend to have an accompanying learning disability associated with autism and tend to be of above average intelligence. People with Asperger’s can often develop an almost obsessive interest in a hobby or collecting. Children with Asperger’s syndrome can often get upset by a change in routine and may insist, for example, on walking the same way to school everyday.
There is currently no cure for people with autism but children with autism can be helped especially if they are diagnosed early in life. Various types of early intervention are available including child development centres, Hanen programmes run by trained speech therapists and nursery classes resourced for special needs.
Therapies and interventions for children with autism
Facts and figures
• Around one in 100 people have autistic spectrum disorder
• Based on the 2001 census, 133,500 children and 454,400 adults had autistic spectrum disorder
• 40% of children with autism wait three years for a diagnosis
• Boys are four times more likely than girls to develop autism
• One fifth of children with ASD have been excluded from school at least once
Autism care providers from the Purchasing Care Directory
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