Autism (NHS Choices)
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour. It includes Asperger syndrome and childhood autism.
The signs of ASD typically start to develop in childhood.
It’s estimated about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with it than girls.
There’s no “cure” for ASD, but a range of educational and behavioural support programmes can help people with the condition.
Read about help and support available for people with ASD.
Signs and symptoms
People with ASD tend to have problems with social interaction and communication.
They can find it hard to understand other people’s emotions and feelings, and have difficulty starting conversations or taking part in them properly. Language development may be delayed.
People with ASD are often only interested in certain things, have repetitive behaviours, and like to stick to a set routine. They tend to get upset if these routines are disrupted.
Children and young people with ASD frequently experience a range of cognitive (thinking), learning, emotional and behavioural problems. For example, they may also have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety, or depression.
About half of those with ASD have some degree of learning difficulty. However, many people are able to be independent with appropriate support.
Read more about the symptoms of ASD.