Autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
In children with ASD, the symptoms are present before three years of age, although a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the age of three.
It's estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.
There's no "cure" for ASD, but speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support, plus a number of other interventions are available to help children and parents.
People with ASD tend to have problems with social interaction and communication.
In early infancy, some children with ASD dont babble or use other vocal sounds. Older children have problems using non-verbal behaviours to interact with others for example, they have difficulty with eye contact, facial expressions, body language and gestures. They may give no or brief eye contact and ignore familiar or unfamiliar people.
Children with ASD may also lack awareness of and interest in other children. They'll often either gravitate to older or younger children, rather than interacting with children of the same age. They tend to play alone.
They can find it hard to understand other people's emotions and feelings, and have difficulty starting conversations or taking part in them properly. Language development may be delayed, and a child with ASD wont compensate their lack of language or delayed language skills by using gestures (body language) or facial expressions.
Children with ASD will tend to repeat words or phrases spoken by others (either immediately or later) without formulating their own language, or in parallel to developing their language skills. Some children don't demonstrate imaginative or pretend play, while others will continually repeat the same pretend play.
Some children with ASD like to stick to the same routine and little changes may trigger tantrums. Some children may flap their hand or twist or flick their fingers when theyre excited or upset. Others may engage in repetitive activity, such as turning light switches on and off, opening and closing doors, or lining things up.
Children and young people with ASD frequently experience a range of cognitive (thinking),learning, emotional and behavioural problems. For example, they may alsohave attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) , anxiety , or depression .
About 70% of children with ASD have a non-verbal IQ below 70. Of these, 50% have a non-verbal IQ below 50. Overall, up to 50% of people with "severe learning difficulties" have an ASD.
See your GP or health visitor if you notice any of the signs and symptoms of ASD in your child, or if you're concerned about your child's development. It can also be helpful to discuss your concerns with your child's nursery or school.
When you're busy responding to the needs of others, it can affect your emotional and physical energy, and make it easy to forget your own health and mental wellbeing.
If you're caring for someone else, it's important to look after yourself and get as much help as possible. It's in your best interests and those of the person you care for.
However, getting a diagnosis as an adult can often help a person with ASD and their families understand the condition, and work out what type of advice and support they need.
For example, a number of autism-specific services are available that provide adults with ASD with the help and support they need to live independently and find a job that matches their skills and abilities.
The characteristics of autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) can vary both from person to person and across different environments. They can also be different for the same person at different times in their life.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behavior. There's no "cure" for ASD, but speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, educational support and other interventions.
The main features of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are problems with social communication and interaction. Signs of ASD include: frequent repetition of set words and phrases, speech that sounds very monotonous or flat, preferring to communicate using single words, despite being able to speak in sentences, etc.
The exact cause of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is currently unknown. It's a complex condition and may occur as a result of genetic predisposition (a natural tendency), environmental or unknown factors.
See your GP or health visitor if your child is showing symptoms of autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or you're worried about their development. Some people with ASD grow up without their condition being recognised, but it's never too late to get a diagnosis.
There's no 'cure' for autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, a range of specialist educational and behavioural programmes can help children with ASD.
Adults with ASD may also benefit from some of the treatments offered to children with ASD, such as psychological therapy and medication. Adults with ASD can live in all types of housing.
Daniel Weston, who has autism, experienced a transformation since taking up tandem cycling with his dad, Pat. "Daniels major impairment is social and communications skills, which affects his life drastically," says his mother.
Sarah Ridout lives in Exeter. At the age of 23, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a condition on the autistic spectrum. "I'm passionate about raising awareness, particularly within the police force. I'm a member of the force's Disability Forum." she says.
Aly Gynn was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a disorder on the autistic spectrum, at the age of 45, although he had suspected for some time that he had the condition.