What is autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) encompasses a wide range of developmental differences and looks different in every child. This is why it is commonly referred to as a spectrum. In our team we have opted to use the term ‘Autism spectrum condition’ (ASC) to reflect a changing and modern perspective.
Key areas of difference in children with ASC are:
- Communication and interaction, eg. the child can say many words but rarely asks for things they need or shares their experiences, or they may have an unusual pattern of language development or no language at all. They may interact with others very little, or they may interact in their ‘own way’.
- Behaviour and flexibility of thinking, eg. the child may insist on things being done the same way, be very controlling, show unusual reactions to sound, taste, smell, etc, or have intense interests and a lack of varied pretend play.
ASC can look different in girls and can be harder to detect. This is thought to be because girls are more likely to have developed ways to ‘cover’ for their social difficulties. In Islington we have a special interest and expertise in the assessment of girls on the spectrum.
We believe that a diagnosis can be helpful because it reveals more about the developmental differences and helps others to understand the child’s needs better. It ensures that the right help and support can be accessed.
People with autism can feel misunderstood. We are committed to promoting ‘autism awareness’ in wider society to increase everyone’s understanding of the needs of those on the spectrum and prevent intolerance.