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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, and 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 they have accompanying learning or physical disabilities.
  • 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 because you have read something about autism, or seen a programme on TV, and you think it relates to some of your own experiences.

It is common for people to go through life without an autism diagnosis and feel that they somehow don't quite fit in. Many people learn to cope with their lives in their own ways, although this can be hard work.

It is your decision on whether you seek a diagnosis, and some people are happy to remain self-diagnosed with autism. However, the only way to know for sure is to get a formal diagnosis.

More information on autism can be found here: What is autism


You may believe that someone you know, for example your partner, sibling, colleague or friend, is autistic but undiagnosed.

If you decide to talk to them about it, the National Autistic Society has a guide about talking to someone who you think might have autism. You have read through it here.

If you think you, or someone you care for, may be autistic, please contact your GP to discuss any concerns. Your GP can then make a referral for a formal assessment if necessary.

For children of school age, you can also discuss any concerns with the school.

More information on getting a diagnosis can be found at:

Some people may be eligible with social care support. You are also entitled to ask for an assessment of your social care needs. Find out more about this here.

The National Autistic Society has some advice on getting a diagnosis on their website.

Last updated: 9/12/2022