The definition of autism has changed over the decades and could change in future years as we understand more.
Having an Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) means that the person has a different way of understanding other people and the world around them. ASC is a lifelong developmental disorder, not an illness or a disease so there is no ‘cure’ but there are many ways that difficulties can be managed.
Here are some of the things you might see, in various combinations and from mild to severe, in people who have ASC:
Difficulties with communication
Taking what people say literally (thinking people mean exactly what they say)
Not understanding jokes or sarcasm
Preferring facts and logic
Finding it hard to understand facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures.
Only feeling comfortable when talking about topics they are interested in
Repetitive in what they say
Difficulties with socialising and interacting with other people
Not wanting to make eye contact
Feeling awkward and not knowing what to say or do in social situations
Difficulties making and keeping friends and romantic relationships
Preferring to be alone and only doing activities they feel comfortable to do
Finding it hard to take turns when playing games
Not liking to be touched or comforted by other people
Difficulty with seeing things from other people’s point of view
Difficulties with imagination
People with ASC can struggle with make believe play or storytelling
It can also be hard to imagine what other people might be thinking or feeling
Having special interests that they invest their time and energy into
Becoming very knowledgeable about a specific topic and spending a lot of time involved in the topic
People with ASC may be overly sensitive to sounds, smells, touch, pain or light, finding these things uncomfortable, frightening or painful.
Some people do not appear sensitive to these things at all.
People with ASC can find change and transition (going from one thing to another) hard, so they prefer familiar and strict routines.
These differences that people with ASC may experience can make everyday life overwhelming.
Often people can feel worried and stressed by everyday activities such as going to school, meeting people and trying new things.
Difficulties with social communication and interaction and the differences in their interests, strengths and talents can make them feel left out and misunderstood by other people, which can lead to problems with low mood and low self- esteem.
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