Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong developmental disorder that affects how a person relates to, and understands, the world around them. All age groups, genders and races are affected.
Being a spectrum condition, no individuals with an ASD are alike, with different series of issues within what is called “the triad of impairments”.
People with an ASD find it difficult to relate to others. Making and maintaining friendships is not easy.
Often children will play by themselves, and seek the company of older children or adults. Adults are described as “loners” and come across as eccentric.
Subtle communication methods, such as body language, facial expressions and tone of voice are a puzzle. People with an ASD often take words and phrases at their literal meaning.
They may also talk incessantly about their special interest or answer a question with a seemingly unrelated answer.
flexibility of thought
In order to make sense of the world, people with an ASD like routine and make rules to make life easier.
This means they do not cope well with change. Life with autism requires an immense amount of pre-planning and forethought.
Things need to be “just so” to allow someone with ASD to tolerate the world around them daily.
People with ASD can also have issues with their senses. This can mean they are over or under sensitive to sound, light and touch.
For example, certain fabrics may be “sore” to the touch as can loud (or soft) noises to the ear.
Individuals may also self-stimulate (stimming) by flapping their hands and arms to calm themselves.
There is no medical test for autism. Diagnosis is done via a series of observations and interviews, depending on the age of the person.
For diagnosis of children, this may include conversations with parents, a teacher, a Speech & Language Therapist and/or a Paediatrician.
For an adult, this may include conversations with parents or a partner and the adult regarding developmental history and current behaviours. Adult diagnosis is usually carried out by a Psychiatrist.
how many people have autism
Studies suggest there are 1 in 100 people in the UK with an ASD. This means that there are around 6,300 people across Lanarkshire with an ASD.
1,700 (26%) of those are under 19 years of age and 4,600 (74%) are adults. Traditionally, it has been thought more boys are affected, but research is changing this belief.
A minority of these people will have a diagnosis.
There are no current official figures for the prevalence of ASD in Scotland.