Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disability which affects the way a person communicates and interacts with other people. It is more commonly referred to as autism.
It’s much more widespread than many people think. There are over half a million people with autism in the UK – that’s 1 in 100.
Children with ASD have a range of communication difficulties. So, they can have difficulty relating to other people and to the wider world. Their social interaction and imaginative play are impaired. They may find it difficult to understand other people’s feelings, or to make friends. These symptoms appear before the age of three.
Males are four times more likely to have autism than females.
ASD not only affects children. It is a lifelong condition. Researchers believe both genetic and environmental factors cause this disability. There is growing evidence that the condition may be inherited and that more than one gene is involved.
Symptoms and their severity may vary from person to person. However, people with ASD may exhibit quite a few common symptoms, such as:
- difficulties with relationships and social interactions
- trouble making eye contact
- inappropriate their body language
- a lack of empathy
- little interest in the same hobbies as their peers
- impaired verbal and nonverbal communication
- an increased focus on particular pieces instead of the whole
- preoccupation with specific topics, routines
- stereotyped behaviours
The diagnostic criteria for ASD have been revised and came into effect in 2013.