Autism is a developmental disorder that greatly affects how a person communicates with others and relates to the wider world.
Autism is a ‘spectrum disorder’, meaning the severity of impairment varies greatly between individuals. Indeed, whilst some autistic people may enjoy a similar level of independence to those without the condition, others are profoundly affected, necessitating lifelong care and support.
Triad of Impairments
People with an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are affected by the so-called ‘triad of impairments’:
Difficulties with interpersonal relationships and unstructured activities.
2. Language and Communication
Problems with processing information and interpreting body language/gesture.
3. Thought and Behaviour
Displaying a rigidity of thought, finding ‘change’ problematic.
Regardless of individual differences, anyone with an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis will be impaired to some extent in these three areas, with the vast majority of cases co-existing with additional learning difficulties and sensory differences.
Causes of autism
Modern medical evidence suggests a biological causation, however no study has shown evidence of one single abnormality present in all cases of autism. This would suggest that ‘autism’ is a broad diagnostic label, covering a lot of subgroups, all with potentially diverse aetiologies.
At present there is no cure for ASD, however the impact of autism can be reduced by the use of person-centred, consistent support using approaches such as TEACCH and low arousal. By implementing such strategies, individuals can enjoy a varied and fulfilling life for as long as this approach is maintained.
There continues to be some debate as to whether Asperger’s syndrome is a condition separate from autism, or is included within the autism spectrum. Individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome are considered to have difficulties with social relatedness, restrictive behaviours and thought patterns, and sensory issues. Again, children and adults with Asperger’s can utilise strategies to support these areas of difficulty and succeed in school/work and home life.
If you would like more information about autism and/or Asperger’s syndrome please follow the links below. If you are looking for support for an individual with ASD please contact the Operations Director and Head of Residential Service, Linda Fish at our main office.