What is Autism?

What is autism?

Autism is a complex developmental condition that typically appears during the first three or four years of a child's life, (girls are being diagnosed more frequently now as there is more knowledge about how autism effects girls).

Autism impacts on the areas of social interaction and communication. Children have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions and participation in leisure and play activities. All Autistic children are different and will have different symptoms. Autism makes it harder for children to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases inappropriate / aggressive and self injurious behaviour may be displayed by the child. They can exhibit repetitive body movements, such as hand flapping or spinning; they make unusual responses to people, environments and situations and can make unusual attachments to objects. Children with autism resist changes in routine and may experience unusual sensitivities in the five sensory areas.

characteristics of children with autism can include:

  • Difficulty in relating to people, objects and events
  • Repetitive movements such as rocking, head banging and hand twisting
  • Insistence that the environment and routine remain unchanged
  • Avoidance of eye contact
  • Verbal and non-verbal communication skills are severely impaired
  • The use of toys and objects tends to be unconventional and they can display little imaginative play
  • They are severely delayed in their development of social interaction
  • Autistic children can also have excellent memories and attention to detail.

Autism is a lifetime condition. It is a spectrum condition and the symptoms and characteristics can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations from mild to severe. Autistic children may require high levels of support from others throughout their lives but can learn strategies that help them to cope with the demands made of them and many autistic adults live independent lilves and hold good jobs.  Priory Education Services offer tailored educational programmes for children and young people with autism which aim to maximise their potential.

This is an introduction. The council recommend further reading or training.

Autistic Spectrum Condition is the most common form of Special Educational Needs (SEN) in Reading and there is a wealth of experience amongst local families. Autism Berkshire and Parenting Special Children  are good places to start making contact with other families and learn how best to support your own child’s needs. National Autistic Society   

Updated January 2024

Related Advice

Autism Assessment Film - Berkshire Health Foundation Trust (BHFT) What is Pathalogical Demand Avoidance (PDA)?

Page last reviewed: 16/02/2024

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