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What is Autism (ASD)?

  • Publish Date: Posted over 1 year ago
  • Author:by Abi Dickson

Autism Spectrum Disorder, ASD, is a neurological and developmental condition which can affect the way someone communicates and interacts with others. Generally, Autism is detected in an individual in their early years, therefore it is often described as a ‘development disorder.’ Moreover, Autism is also known as a ‘spectrum’ disorder, due to the vast variation of symptoms individuals may experience.

An individual who has Autism may act and communicate in different ways to other individuals. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Finding it hard to understand people

  • Repeats word over and over

  • Attachment to repetitive behaviour

  • Finds loud noises uncomfortable

  • Finds it hard to communicate or interact with others

What causes Autism?

There is no specific cause of autism, however research suggests that autism develops from a combination of genetic, non-genetic and environment influences. Although there are no causes, there are however risk factors..

  • Advanced parent age

  • Pregnancy and birth complications

  • Pregnancies spaced less than one year apart

The Autism Stigma

Autistic people are often subject to experiencing some sort of discrimination in their life-time, typically due to the fact Autism carries a negative stigma. Whilst there is a lot of stigma surrounding Autism, and much of the focus tends to be around negative traits, individuals diagnosed as autistic do present some unique strengths compared to their neurotypical counterparts which are often overlooked. These include: -

  • Attention to detail

  • Exceptional memory for facts & figures

  • Visual perception

  • Creative & artistic talents

  • Mathematical & technical abilities

  • Interests or expertise in niche areas

  • Character strengths, such as honesty & loyalty

Prejudiced beliefs on those who have Autism can lead to many forms of discrimination; education, medical, employment, and in general day- to- day life. In addition, the impacts of the stigma may encourage an individual to mask who they are to pass as ‘non-autistic,’ therefore making it difficult for them to feel a sense of belonging. Not only this, but in the 2020 Office for National Statistics report, it was stated that only 22% of autistic adults are in any kind of employment, therefore demonstrating further how perhaps the stigma of autistic individuals and their abilities effect their lifestyle.

Signs of Autism in Children

Within the first few years of a child’s life, they may experience or present signs which may be symptoms of autism. These signs typically are different to those of similar ages, for example

  • Not smiling in response to others

  • Not making eye contact

  • Not interested in playing with others (toddler years)

  • Repeating everything they hear (toddler years)

Autism in young children can be diagnosed between 12-18 months however, usually the diagnosis is made from aged two. The diagnosis is based upon a judgement of different factors such as

  • Watching how children play with others

  • Interviewing parents

  • Reviewing the development of the child over a period of time

In 2022, it was reported that about 1 in 100 children are diagnosed with ASD, resulting in the support being more limited. According to Beyond Autism, 7 in 10 autistic children and young adults said that school would be better If their teachers understood Autism.

The National Autistic Society offers programmes to give support for families and carers based upon different age groups.

A man delivering a play workshop with a young autistic child

Signs of Autism in Adults

Parents and doctors can miss symptoms of Autism in the early years of a child’s life, or perhaps misdiagnosed as having ADHD, Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, due to both ASD and ADHD sharing similar symptoms. Autism in adults tends to be more present in the way in which an individual may communicate, their emotions and behaviours, and sensitivity to their senses.

Behaviour of adults with autism may include:-

  • Enjoying consistent routine

  • Trouble with emotions

  • Difficulty multitasking

  • Prefer operating solo

  • Have strong reactions or no reactions

Autism in Males vs Females

Research has shown that Autism is three times more prevalent in males than females, possibly due to the fact that females are more likely to ‘mask’ their autistic traits. For example, girls may watch others and mimic their behaviour to blend in. This is usually the case when girls have an average or high range IQ. Not only this, but Autism research often focuses on male symptoms, therefore resulting in more diagnoses in comparison to females.

Various studies suggest that the ratio of autistic males to females ranges from 2:1 to 16:1. There are many other factors as to why more males are diagnosed than females, including:

  • Autism assessments are less sensitive to the autistic traits that are found in women.

  • Autistic traits in girls are under- reported by teachers.

  • Biological factors may mean that males have a higher prevalence of autism.

Working with Autism

We work with a range clients across the UK who work within the ASD field, offering a variety of roles.

  • ADHD Assessors

  • Assessment Nurses

  • Assessment Social Workers

  • Support Workers

  • Severe Complex Learning

  • Life Skill Coaches

  • Locum Learning Disability Support Workers

Get touch with a member of our Healthcare team or submit your CV below.

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To find out more on Autism, there are many resourceful websites you can visit-

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