Autism spectrum disorder
Sarah Ridoutlives in Exeter. At the age of23, she was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a condition on the autistm spectrum.
"I went to my GP after I watched a documentary aboutautism and recognised some of the characteristics in myself, particularly the difficulty with forming friendships. My GPdiagnosed mewith Asperger syndrome.
"Looking back, I can now relate some of my educational experiences to having autism. Like many people with the condition, I was bullied a great dealat school and college, often in PE and sports. I was always picked last. I found it really difficult to play games with other children at break times, and they would refuse to let me join in.
"I find it funny now, because I'm proud of my achievements. Despite having Asperger syndrome, I can do whatever I choose in life, it's just that I might do some things differently, or need time to learn. I work for Devon and Cornwall Police, and manage a team of people who gather and input crime data. In my role, I rely on communication and social skills, which aren't typically associated with people with autism. People with autism experience the condition in different ways, but we're also individuals. I hate stereotyping.
"I live a varied life, and I have many friends and hobbies, including being a Woodcraft Folk group leader. I'm a keen runner and completed the London Marathon earlier this year. I've come a long way since I was picked last in PE!
"I think my job carries an important message about people with Asperger syndrome. I'm passionate about raising awareness, particularly within the police force. I'm a member of the force's Disability Forum. We support each other's problems, and we raise concerns with the diversity directorate. I think everyone has the right to live and work without discrimination.
"I wish that people had a better understanding of my needs. I can do things, but I don't always understand what is expected of me. Sometimes, I get upset and anxious about other people judging me, because I find it difficult to interpret what others are thinking and feeling.
"As I work in the police force, it's important to me to raise awareness of autism for the benefit of the wider community. Some people with autism are more likely to be victims of crime because of their social difficulties. People with autism can also be easily misunderstood and misinterpreted. It's important that the police know how to communicate with people with autism and give them appropriate support."
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.