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Autism FAQ’s

Below are some frequently asked questions about autism:

What is autism?

Autism usually appears in the early years of a child’s life. It is complex and can affect a person’s communication, relationships, social skills, and self-regulation. It is known and often referred to as a Spectrum Disorder or Condition because each person’s experience will vary a lot. Early intervention, therapies and education will help that person lead a life of choice and opportunity.


What causes autism?

There is not one known cause for autism. It is something you are born with rather than something you catch or develop over time. It has been proven by researchers from Statens Serum Institut and the University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and Stanford University School of Medicine in the US, that vaccines and certain types of foods do not cause autism. Vaccinating your child is important to protect them from other illnesses.


Is autism a lifelong condition and can it be cured?

Autism is a lifelong condition; it is something you are born with and is usually identified in early childhood. It cannot be ‘cured’; if diagnosed early, education and where appropriate, therapy can help with the child’s development and communication, so they can live a life full of freedom and opportunity.


What are the signs of autism?

There are many different signs and indicators of autism in adults and children, which can often be mistaken for other conditions. It’s important that if you suspect you, or someone you love has autism, then seeking a diagnosis could help with getting the support that is available.


Some of the common signs in young children:

  • they may not respond to their name
  • avoid eye contact
  • they may not smile when you smile at them
  • they become very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell, or sound (sensory overload)
  • engage in repetitive movements, such as rocking back and forth or tapping surfaces
  • they usually do not talk as much as their peers
  • they like repeating the same phrases


Some of the common signs in older children and adults:

  • they don’t seem to understand what others are thinking or feeling, or be able to empathise with that person
  • they find it difficult to talk about their feelings
  • like a strict daily routine and may become very upset if it changes
  • having a very keen interest in very specific subjects or activities which some may consider obsessive
  • may become unexpectedly upset if you ask them to do something
  • difficulty in socialising and making friends or they prefer to be on their own
  • take things very literally – for example, may not understand phrases like “break a leg”


Do boys and girls have autism?

Yes, both boys and girls can have autism. It is quite common that the signs of autism often manifest differently, are missed or diagnosed as another condition within girls. Autism in boys is more frequently recognised than autism in girls. This has led to the wide held belief that only boys have autism and not girls, which is in fact not true, and because of this, can sometimes make it harder for girls to receive the help and support they need.


Can you develop autism as an adult?

Autism can only be diagnosed when the signs have been present from early childhood (i.e. before 3). It is possible to receive a late diagnosis if the signs have always been present. If you or someone you know has suddenly developed behavioural or communication issues which were not present before, then this is likely down to another condition. You cannot develop autism in adulthood. If autism is suspected or even another condition, then this should be investigated.


Is there anything I can do to prevent my child from having autism?

You cannot do anything specific to prevent your child having autism; however, your child will grow and develop with the right education, support, and therapies.


Why are sensory activities important for people with autism?

Sensory activities help stimulate the brain and cognitive skills, develop social skills, and improve coordination and physical development. Some people are sensory seekers and others will avoid situations.  Everyone’s sensory needs are different. Some sensory activity is also used for relaxation and comfort.


Why are children with autism considered naughty?

Some people believe that children with autism are naughty or poorly behaved. This belief, especially if shared with the child, can be incredibly damaging to the child’s metal wellbeing, as well as spreading misconceptions. Behaviour serves a function and should be viewed as a form of communication. Some people with autism communicate differently because their understanding of communication is different. We prefer to call some of these types of behaviour ‘behaviours that challenge’ as it is much more respectful to that child and their family. Behaviours that challenge can stem from feelings of frustration or being in an overstimulating environment. Consideration should be made about what the triggers are for that behaviour so they can be resolved, rather than just punishing the child. This approach is true for all children not just those who have autism.


What’s it like having autism?

To people with autism, the world can sometimes be a very confusing place. Everyone feels differently about their autism. Some people may be uncomfortable discussing it and other people view it as an important part of their identity. It’s always worth checking how that person feels and what their preferences are before discussing with them.


For more information take a look at our online training courses.



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