What is it?
Autism is the name given to a group of difficulties called Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD); these are not mental health conditions. These conditions affect the way people’s brains develop and work. This can mean that young people with autism often experience or see the world they live in differently from other people. Autism is a spectrum disorder which means it can affect each person differently.
Studies have shown that about 1 in 100 young people have ASD and it seems to be more common in boys than girls.
For some young people, autism is diagnosed when they are very young, but for others it may not be recognised until they are older, such as in secondary school.
Watch this animation below, posted on Facebook by the Autism Awareness Society, which explains what autism is:
Signs and Symptoms
Young people who have autism usually find it more difficult than others to manage certain areas in their life; these areas may include:
This means that they might:
- Have difficulty understanding jokes or sarcasm
- Find it hard to read other people’s body language and facial expressions
- Have difficulty understanding other people’s emotions and expressing their own emotions
- Find it hard to cope with queues, crowds and manage noise
- Feel very anxious in some situations
- Become distressed when there are changes to their routines or structure in their day
- Display repetitive behaviours, such as twisting or flapping their hands
- Develop intense interests in things or certain subjects
Some people might notice that they have some of these signs but that doesn’t mean they definitely have autism.
What causes autism?
It’s not clear what the exact cause of autism is and work is still on-going to try to find out. A combination of different things, like genes and environmental factors, are thought to play a part. There seems to be evidence that autism sometimes runs in families.
What can help?
If you feel concerned that you might be affected by autism, it’s important that you talk to someone you trust – this could be your parents or other family members.
You could also talk to someone at school, such as a teacher, head of year, SENCO, school nurse or school counsellor. Talking to someone can help to make sure that you are getting the right kind of support and help, and it can help you to understand your feelings and behaviours.
Talking to your GP is also important as they can make sure a referral is made to specialist services for more support and advice and possible diagnosis.
Remember that you’re not the only one who feels like this, and there are lots of people to help and support you.
Real Life Experience
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