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Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.
- Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and weaknesses
- Someone may have mild, moderate or severe autism, so it is sometimes referred to as a spectrum, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD)
- Autistic people can be affected in different ways
- Some may be able to live relatively independent lives, while others may need support or have accompanying learning disabilities or other disabilities or suffer mental ill health
- Autistic people often have difficulty with communication and social interaction
- Some experience over or under-sensitivity to sounds, colours, tastes, smells, light or touch
- Some need really clear routines or may have certain rituals or obsessions
- No two autistic people will be the same
- Asperger's syndrome is a form of autism which also causes communication and emotional problems
- The National autistic Society estimate that 11 in every 1,000 people (1.1% of the population) are on the autism spectrum
You may be wondering if you are autistic. Perhaps you have read something about autism, or seen a programme on TV, and think it describes some of your own experiences.
It's quite common for people to have gone through life without an autism diagnosis, feeling that somehow they don't quite fit in. Many people learn to cope with life in their own ways, although this can be hard work.
It is up to you whether you decide to seek a diagnosis, and some people are happy to remain self-diagnosed. The only way to know for sure whether you are autistic is to get a formal diagnosis.
More information about autism can be found here What is autism
You may believe that someone you know - be it a partner, sibling, colleague, friend – is autistic, but undiagnosed.
If you decide to talk to them about it, how can you do this sensitively?
The National Autistic Society have a guide about talking to them about it partners friends and colleagues (autism.org.uk)
Getting a Diagnosis
If you are think you or someone you care for may be autistic or have Asperger’s Syndrome please contact your GP to discuss your concerns. They can make a referral for a formal assessment if necessary.
For children of school age you can also discuss any concerns you may have with the school.
Information about getting a diagnosis
Some people may be eligible for social care support. You are entitled to ask for an assessment of your social care needs. Find out more
The National Autistic Society has more advice about how to get a diagnosis which you can read here