What is Autism?

This post will attempt to summarise some of the most important and widely accepted aspects of autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). This is a post that I have always intended to do very soon after starting this blog, as I believe it will form a good foundation to build upon for further discussions about specific aspects of this disorder. This post will be a more informative one, and not based upon my personal experiences.

The official definition of autism, as specified by the National Autistic Society, is as follows, “Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.”

It is widely accepted that this disorder can affect individuals in many different ways, which is why it is often referred to as a “spectrum”. However, there are certain characteristics which are generally agreed upon as consistently exhibited by autistic people by the National Autistic Society and the International Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems:

  • Difficulties with social interactions and communication
  • Repetitive behaviours
  • Intense or inflexible interests
  • Sensory sensitivities

These difficulties can range from mild to more extreme, and this is why no two autistic people are the same and cannot be helped or understood with exactly the same methods. This is an important point that I will return to often, as this is often what prevents girls and women from getting diagnosed as there is an accepted idea of what an autistic person “looks” like. In reality this is often incorrect, exaggerated or based upon false portrayals of autism through films, mainly by men or boys.

Autism is not entirely uncommon, with 1 in 100 people in the UK being diagnosed with this disorder during their lifetimes. This is a lifelong condition with no “cure”, but there are treatments and therapies which have been tailored to autistic people to help them navigate the world a little easier. The exact causes of autism are not known yet, but recent research has suggested that both genetic and environmental factors are involved.

I believe that this information is essential for everyone to know, not just those with autism or those close to autistic people. It is important to recognise that this disorder can limit our abilities to communicate, but this should not mean that we are any less capable of success or happiness than any other human being. In creating my blog, I already feel as though I am breaking some of the assumptions regarding autism and I hope to continue this trend. My future posts will focus on specific aspects of this disorder and include more of my personal experiences to help explain what the world looks like from my perspective.

I hope that any readers will continue to read and enjoy and learn from my posts, but I am already proud to have taken this first step and begin my journey with you all. Please feel free to let me know if there is anything in particular you would like to hear about, and I will do my best to research this for you.

Thanks,

Toni.

P.S. Due to my official certificate for my undergraduate degree arriving this morning, I thought I could share a picture of me celebrating my graduation at my home a few weeks ago!

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