Autism awareness

  1. About autism (selected)
  2. What you can do

About autism

Autism is a spectrum condition. This means that being autistic will affect everyone differently. People of any gender, religion, social background and nationality can be autistic. Autism is a lifelong condition and cannot be treated or cured. Often autistic people feel that it is a fundamental part of who they are. All autistic people share certain difficulties that are highlighted below, but each autistic person will be affected in different ways.

Social imagination and flexible thinking

This means that an autistic person may not be flexible in the way they think about interests, routines, perspectives and rules. They may

•    not understand other people's point of view or feelings
•    be agitated by change
•    not generalise information
•    have a very literal understanding of things.

Social interaction

Autistic people can struggle to understand how to behave and interact with other people. They may:

•    have difficulties understanding unwritten social rules relating to touch, proximity, turn taking and appropriate use of language
•    be unaware of different ways to interact with different people, for example, friends, staff or strangers.
•    want to have friends and relationship but struggle to initiate and maintain them.

Social communication

Autistic people can find it difficult to communicate effectively. They may

•    communicate for their own needs rather than for social engagement
•    talk about their own interests regardless of the listener's response
•    not always want to communicate with others
•    have difficulties 'reading between the lines' or picking up on the subtext of a conversation.

These lists are not exhaustive and autistic people can experience a range of other difficulties including:

•    sensory sensitivity – over or under sensitivity to lights, smells, touch, sounds, tastes, temperatures or pain
•    repetitive behaviour and routines
•    highly focused interests
•    difficulty paying attention to people and tasks.

Some autistic people have related conditions such as a learning disability or mental health problems. All autistic people can learn and develop, and with the right support can be helped to live a fulfilling life.

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