What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong neurobiological difference, which means it’s a difference in the way the child’s brain works. Autism is not an intellectual disability.

The causes of autism are unclear. The most recent research suggests that it may be a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Autism is often described as a spectrum which means that it affects different children in different ways. It’s important to note that some children diagnosed with autism also have an additional diagnosis such as an intellectual disability, global developmental delay or anxiety.    

Whilst every child with autism is different, there are some key characteristics that many children with autism may experience:

Difficulties with social interactions

Children with autism can find social interactions very challenging which means that things like making eye contact, understanding facial expressions and the ‘give and take’ of social interactions can be hard.

Differences in communication skills

Many children with autism have differences in their communication skills; some children with autism may be non-verbal or delayed in their speech.

Restricted interests

Restricted and repetitive interests and behaviours are also common in children with autism. Children with Autism may show very strong interests for example in trains, the colour yellow or fans.

In Australia 1 in 70 people have a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder and for every female, with autism there are four males.

In the videos below you will meet three children with autism and learn a little about their journey and their experience.

From these examples, you can see why autism is referred to as a spectrum.

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