• Autism Help UK

What is Autism?

Updated: Jun 4

Autism is a brain based condition that affects people in different ways. Autism used to be defined as a spectrum, however people now understand that each autistic person is different with varying strengths and weaknesses and different needs of support. Some autistic people need little or no support, whilst other may need help from a parent or carer every day. Other areas that can be common but also can vary include:

  • communication with others & understand non-verbal communication (such as facial expressions)

  • socialising and connecting

  • repetitive behaviours- this can either be for fun or because of anxiety

  • sensory needs (hypo or hyper sensitive)


family and autism

The Cause of Autism

The cause of autism is not yet known. However, scientist believe a probable cause might be genetics, passed down through families.


Misinformation can be spread about the cause of autism, which can make people scared. So, it is important to note that the cause of autism is NOT due to:

  • bad parenting

  • vaccines

  • diet

  • an infection you can spread to other people


Diagnosing Autism

Diagnosing autism usually involves speaking to a professional, whether this is a doctor, a paediatrician, or a special educational needs teacher. They can then let you know if it is best to get a further autism assessment test which is done by autism specialists.


The autism assessment test will go into more detail to decide if you or your child has autism. They may:

  • ask problems you or your child are having

  • watch how you or your child interact with other people

  • speak to people who know you or your child well, such as family, friends, your GP or your child's teachers

At the end of the assessment, you'll be given a report saying if you or your child are autistic.

(NHS, 2019)


For some, the thought of going to see a doctor to get diagnosed may be a little stressful, but it is a worth it if you believe you or someone you love is autistic.


If you are a parent, a diagnosis can help you understand your child better. You may have thought they were being naughty, but know now this is not the case. A diagnosis means you can start providing better help for your child and understand what they truly need. It also means you can get more support, both from schools and financially.


If you are an adult, a diagnosis will help you understand who you are and why you might struggle in some areas which come easier to others. It also means you can get educational and financial support.


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