Autism comes under the umbrella of neurodiversity and can be referred to as ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) or ASC (Autistic Spectrum Condition). There is a current shift away from the use of ASD towards ASC, as condition sounds nicer than disorder.
What is Autism?
The term autism refers to neurological differences in brain development that has a marked effect on how a person develops.
“…the simplest explanation of autism is that it is a different cognitive and sensory state - in other words, a hard-wired difference in the way your child thinks and responds to the sensory environment.”
“Autism & Asperger Syndrome in Children” by Dr Luke Beardon: 2019.
Like a learning disability, autism is a lifelong condition. Autism is sometimes referred to as a spectrum, due to the fact that autism can present itself in a range of ways.
Autism is not a learning disability, but around half of autistic people may also have a learning disability.
There are three common features of autism, which might affect the way a person:
Signs of autism
The signs of autism will be different for everyone, and affect different people in different ways in different environments (they are dimensional), but you might notice some of the following if your child has autism:
This is not a full list, so please speak to a member of staff or contact your GP if you have concerns.
Further information can be found at the Mencap Website. Please click on the link.
“I am a proud father of a daughter with autism - she has a heart of gold and is incredibly caring. She loves music, singing and dancing! Many people see this side, however, there is a far more challenging side – immense explosive behaviour where she becomes cross and/or angry, she trashes her room, breaks things, screams at people and says hurtful things! It is hard to stay calm and not take it personal, however, I always remember that she does not mean this. Afterwards, when the dust has settled she is heartfelt sorry and always wants a cuddle – you can’t beat that feeling! When my wife and I were going through the process with our daughter, the paediatrician said to us ‘autism is a reason for the behaviours, but it does not excuse certain behaviours – your daughter will need to learn strategies to self-regulate and you will have to try/use different strategies to support her.’ This is a lifelong commitment!”
Mr Laker, Headteacher.
In order to better understand autism (and ADHD, as my daughter also has this – research shows that there is between 50 and 80% overlap of symptoms) and more importantly my daughter, I have read and watched a lot. Below are some books/websites you might want to read or programmes you may wish to watch.
There are also lots of other books you may come across and there are plenty of books about autism written for children to either help explain it to them or who introduce characters who have autism.
Programmes/Videos to watch:
Chris Packham – Inside Our Autistic Minds
My Autism and Me
Rosie King: How autism freed me to be myself | TED Talk
Neurodiversity – the key that unlocked my world | Elisabeth Wiklander | TEDxGöteborg