What is Autism
Autism is a development disorder which can affect the way you think and feel. It is a lifelong condition and it affects how you communicate with and relate to other people. It also affects how you make sense of the world around you. Autism is not a mental health problem, but a study found that as many as 7 out of 10 people with autism also have a mental health problem such as anxiety, depression or OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder).
Autism is known as a spectrum so some people are affected by it far more than others. Some autistic people have great difficulties with speech and communication and are not able to care for themselves or live independently. Some people with autism or Asperger’s syndrome, which is a type of autism, may have very good language and communicating skills but lack social skills.
If you are autistic, you may have problems with:
People with autism mainly have difficulties with:-
- social communication – you might have problems reading body language, understanding jokes, sarcasm, or facial expressions and common phrases
- social interaction – you may not recognise or understanding other people's emotions and feelings, and have difficulties expressing how you feel
- social imagination – you may have difficulties understanding and interpreting other people's thoughts, feelings and actions, predicting what will happen next and understanding danger.
Other symptoms of autism include preferring familiar routines, having intense and specific interests in things and you may have repetitive movements such as twisting your fingers.
The cause of autism is unknown, although research suggests that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Asperger's syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger's syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
Around 1 in 100 children and young people are affected, and over 500,000 people in the UK have autism. There is no cure for autism or Asperger's syndrome but there is support available.
If you think you have autism, talk to your parent or carer or a GP although your parents or carers may have picked up on specific difficulties you have.
There is more information on help in the next section.