What is Autism?
Autism, correctly known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong developmental condition which typically affects the way in which an individual relates to people, and his or her environment. Autism Spectrum Australia states approximately one in 100 individuals are living with ASD and nearly four times as many males are affected as females. Children can often be identified as living with ASD from around the age of two years but less severe cases may not be detected until much later in childhood, or even adulthood.
‘Spectrum’ refers to the way that ASD presents itself differently in each individual, as both challenges and abilities. As the degree to which individuals are affected, an individual living with ASD may not present with noticeable symptoms and may live a relatively normal life, whilst others may require ongoing care and support.
Autism Spectrum Australia lists social communication, social interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interest as the main areas affected by ASD.
So what does this mean?
An individual living with ASD may lack non-verbal communication, or lack the ability to register others non-verbals. They may not engage in regular eye contact when speaking with others, and they may not respond emotionally or register their own or others emotions which can affect both peer and family relationships.
Autism Awareness states those living with ASD may excessively adhere to routines or patterns and can become distressed when these routines change. An affected individual may have an increased or decreased sensitivity and reactivity to sensory input, such as hearing a sound as louder than an unaffected individual may, or not responding to the sound at all. Affected individuals may encounter significant learning difficulties throughout their lifetime, but many also have skills which enable them to succeed past the norm.
Who can I contact for more information and support?
There are many Australia-wide and Queensland-based establishments dedicated to providing information and support for individuals and families of those living with ASD.
Autism Awareness is a non-Government organisation (NGO) which seeks to empower parents and carers with information and resources, and provide educational programs to families, businesses, and the general public. They are a member of the United Nations Department of Public Information and have presented at various global conferences.
Autism Queensland is “a community based organisation dedicated to creating a life of participation , opportunity and choice for people living with ASD.”