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.
It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.
People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours. Autism is part of the autism spectrum and is sometimes referred to as an autism spectrum disorder or an ASD.
The three main areas of difficulty which all people with autism share are sometimes known as the 'triad of impairments'. They are:
All people with autism can benefit from a timely diagnosis and access to appropriate services and support.
The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another but as well as the three main areas of difficulty people with autism may have: