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Understanding autism

Autism is part of who a person is. Every individual has a unique and meaningful contribution to make to society.

Autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be cured. Accessing the right support and guidance can help development and improve outcomes.

In this section you can find information about diagnosis, causes, communication as well as statistics about autism in the UK.

Every individual will have a unique experience of autism. Below are some of the challenges people with autism may face. 

 

Social communication and social interaction

Communication can be difficult for some people with autism. They may find it hard reading body language, understanding peoples’ emotions or processing language. 

We all use a combination of verbal, gesture, body language and more to communicate. For some people specific augmented and alternative communication methods further enhance their ability to communicate. Find out more about communication. 

 

Repetitive behaviour

Routines can help reduce anxiety for people with autism. For example, using the same route to go to work every day helps the individual feel in control. Changes to routine, big or small, can be difficult to process. Where possible, planning ahead can help reduce any confusion or anxiety that the disruption may cause. 

People with autism may also have repetitive movements such as hand flapping or making sounds. These are often a calming mechanism for the individual when they feel stressed. Read more about self-stimulatory behaviours here 

 

Sensory difficulties 

People with autism can experience under- or over-sensitivity to sounds, touch, smells, pain, light or temperature. Sounds or smells that many people block out can be over-stimulating and cause stress. It may also be under-stimulating and a person might look to increase their sensory input by turning the volume up or getting closer to smells. 

Find out more about sensory processing. 

 

Behaviours that challenge

When stress or anxiety builds up it can lead to behaviours that challenge or “meltdowns”. This may take many forms including screaming, kicking, running away or ceasing communication.  

These behaviours are often the result of an individual being overwhelmed and can occur when a person is finding it difficult to communicate. It is important to understand why behaviours that challenge are happening so that the right support can be given to the individual. 

Find out more about behaviour here. 

Understanding autism

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