WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.
An estimated 1 in 68 people has autism. (CDC 2016). Autism affects almost four times as many boys than girls. Autism occurs in every culture and country and knows no socio-economic boundaries.
THE AUTISM SPECTRUM
The word 'spectrum' describes the range of differences that people on the autism spectrum may live with, and the degree to which they may experience autism. Each person’s response to having autism is unique. The level of support each person may need can vary greatly; some people may be very independent and need very little to no support in their lives, some people may have more limited independence and need more consistent daily support and some may need constant support.
SOCIAL COMMUNICATION & PATTERNS OF BEHAVIOR
Differences in social communication may be demonstrated the way an autistic person understands and uses both verbal and non-verbal language in interactions with other people. The autistic person may not recognize social cues or understand appropriate social behaviour, and they may find it difficult to initiate an interaction or conversation with others. Patterns of behaviour differences are seen in the need for routine and structure, and the techniques autistic individuals use to self-regulate. They may have repetitive motor movements like hand flapping or rocking. There may be special interests present on which the person maintains intense focus.
People on the autism spectrum may also have sensory differences. They may perceive sensory information more intensely; this can be so overwhelming that they try to avoid experiencing that sensory information. They may be upset by bright lights or loud noises. Conversely, some people with autism may be under sensitive to sensory information and they may seek that sensory experience out by spinning in place or jumping up and down.