What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental condition that affects, among other things, the way an individual relates to his or her environment and their interaction with other people.

The word 'spectrum' describes the range of difficulties that people on the spectrum may experience and the degree to which they may be affected. Some people may be able to live relatively normal lives, while others may have an accompanying learning disability and require continued specialist support.

Please watch this short video that provides some further insight into autism:

As you have just seen, the main areas of difficulty are in social communication, social interaction and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.

People on the autism spectrum may also have:

  • Unusual sensory interests such as sniffing objects or staring intently at moving objects
  • Sensory sensitivities including avoiding everyday sounds and textures such as hair dryers, vacuum cleaners and sand
  • Intellectual impairment or learning difficulties

An estimated 1 in 70 people are on the autism specrtrum; that's almost 230,000 Australians. Autism affects almost four times as many boys than girls.

Click here to learn about Behavioural difficulties.

What is autism?