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  1. ITV Report

Autism Awareness Day: What is autism?

What is autism Photo: PA

More than 1 person in every 100 people has autism. But you cannot always tell that someone has autism just by looking at them. Often it's called a 'hidden disability'. So...what is autism?

Autism lasts for all of a person's life. But they can still do a lot of things and learn a lot of skills.

Some people with autism find these things difficult:

  • They find it difficult to tell people what they need, and how they feel
  • They find it difficult to meet other people and to make new friends
  • They find it difficult to understand what other people think and how they feel

How do people with autism behave?

  • They may not speak, but use things like pictures or sign language to communicate instead
  • They may not understand what other people say
  • They may copy what other people say
  • They may only talk about their favourite subject
  • They may like to play the same game / do the same thing every day
  • They may be very interested in one thing and know a lot about it
  • They may be good at remembering information
  • They may do well at school, college and work

What else is special about autism?

  • They may find co-ordination difficult. This means that they may find it difficult to do things like use scissors, use knives and forks, or ride a bike
  • They may be very good at something. For example, they may be very good at maths, art or music
  • They can be good at learning how to do something when they see someone else doing it
  • They may be good at concentrating on one activity
  • They may have learning disabilities
  • They may have other difficulties, for example, they may have dyslexia

Autism can affect someone's senses.

Sight: Some people with autism may not like bright lights and colours. Other people with autism might like them a lot.

Sound: Some people with autism may not like loud noises. Other people with autism might like certain noises.

Smell: Some people with autism may not like some smells. Other people with autism might like a certain smell.

Touch: Some people with autism may not like being touched. Other people with autism might like being touched.

Taste: Some people with autism may like to eat the same food every day. Other people with autism might like lots of different food.

Asperger syndrome

There is a type of autism called Asperger syndrome.

People with Asperger syndrome do not have learning disabilities, but they find the same things difficult as people with autism.

Some examples of things that people with Asperger syndrome find difficult:

  • They find it difficult to tell people what they need, and how they feel.
  • They find it difficult to meet other people and to make new friends.
  • They find it difficult to understand what other people think, and how they feel.