What is autism?
A simple explanation of autism
The official name for autism is autism spectrum disorder (ASD) due to the fact that doctors have classified autism as a collection of conditions and not just one. The basis of autism, explained simply, is when the patient’s brain develops differently to other people’s and they may battle making sense of things around them in the conventional way.
Every second, our brain is computing what to do next, making sense of the world and interpreting everything we touch, hear, smell, see and feel. People with autism often find it hard to interpret these things as others do and often see things in a completely different light than the average person.
Thus, autism affects the way that a person’s brain make sense of everyday things and the sufferer may particularly battle in connecting actions and feelings. For instance, if someone smiles, it is an indication to most people that they are happy, the same goes for when someone is angry – their facial expressions and body language cues indicate this.
Someone with autism may however not be able to process these emotions in the same way as most people or come to the above conclusions through examining an expression or gesture, as they often have trouble understanding people’s emotions and how to react to them. An autistic person may therefore react in a seemingly unusual way, making it difficult for the average person to understand them. Typical behaviour may also often include repetitive actions.
Autism is diagnosed in children when they are between 24 months and 6 years old and continues to affect them throughout their lives depending on the severity and treatment.
A more complex explanation of autism
Autism, known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), discussed above, is the umbrella term for a group of disorders which are referred to as pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs). Asperger’s syndrome or Asperger’s disorder falls under ASD.
Autism’s main characterisations are difficulty with social interaction and communication. Characteristics of autistic people are often viewed as repetitive, rigid and restricted behavioural types. The range of characteristics allow the condition to be grouped under the term ASD. It is a multifaceted condition that is known as a neurobehavioral condition – which relates to the basis of behaviour being affected by the nervous system.
The levels of effect of ASD range in severity. Some patients may be able to learn and adapt to their condition in the hopes of living a normal life, others may require institutionalisation.
This is not to view the condition as a setback for those who have it, as some patients may exhibit exceptional skills and abilities beyond the average person’s capabilities. The conditions affect people differently.
Click on the navigation above to explore more a closer look at autism and its causes, symptoms and more. As helpful and informative as this information may be, it is important to keep in mind that this is merely a guideline and does not serve as a diagnosis or treatment for any condition. It is always best to consult with a doctor or healthcare professional for that. For the sake of easy reading in this article, we will refer to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) as autism.