What is autism?

“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them”

National Autistic Society (2015)

The term Autism has many different labels including Autism Spectrum Disorder (DSM-V) and Asperger’s Syndrome (ICD-10) and other terminologies.  The service uses the term “Autism” to accompany both these and other labels and is in line with NICE Guidance and Quality Standards.

Autism was first identified through the work of Leo Kanner in 1943 and Hans Asperger in 1944, however, since then what the criteria for being on the Autism Spectrum have widened seeing an increase in numbers.  Approximately 1- 1.5% of the general population have an Autism Spectrum condition of some kind.  The exact causes are unknown and at present, there is no known cure or recovery.

In 1979 Lorna Wing and Patricia Gould identified which is now known as the “Triad of Impairments”. This was that people on the spectrum have difficulties in the three main areas; social interaction, social communication and social imagination or flexibility of thinking.  Many people on the Autism Spectrum will also have sensory differences which can affect them in various ways.

For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder visit the NHS Choices website

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