Autism is a neurological condition, affecing the way the brain functions. People are affected in different ways and this is why is is known as a spectrum of conditions. These conditions are known as the Autistic Spectrum.

You may have seen the film ‘Rain Man’. Raymond in the film was based on a real live man; Kim Peek. He had Kanner Autism and Savant syndrome. His amazing abilities with numbers came fromSavant syndrome, as opposed to autism and therefore are not shared by everyone with Autism. Kanner Autism is known as Low Functioning Autism. The other end of the Spectrum is Asperger’s syndrome, somtimes referred to as High Functioning Autism. Notable people with Asperger’s are Gary Numan and Ladyhawke. After careful research into behaviour traits, many famous historical figures are thought to have had Asperger’s, such as Einstein and Newton. However it is important to understand that, whilst somone may be labeled as high functioning or as having mild autism, this does not mean that Autism does not affect them; everyone has different needs and it is important to find out the person’s needs.

The conditions that feature within the Autistic Spectrum are linked by a series of diagnostic critera and other characteristics (traits). Some are briefly listed below (this is not a complete list).

Social Communication e.g non-verbal and literal, also echoing speech.

Social Imagination e.g Being able to understand another perspective and predict others’ intentions.

Social Interaction e.g skills such as sharing.

Repetative and routine behaviours e.g needing to stick to a routine, flapping, rocking, etc (these behaviours do have purposes).

Special Interests: an intense interest in a subject such as computers, animals or Thomas the Tank Engine.

Sensory perception difficulties ; there are many, but within the new diagnostic criteria Hypersensitivity and Hyposensitivity senstivity (over and under sensitivity to sensory input) will be listed.

Also, difficulties with food such as a gluten and casein intolerance and leaky gut syndrome are common. Difficulties with sleep and anxiety and depression are also common.

But there can be some very positive aspects to living with Autism such as being a hard worker, good attention to detail, dedicated, able to focus, honest and having a very good memory. Everyone’s skills are different, though. Not everyone will go on to have a world famous career, but this does not mean they do not make an important contribution in life. Equally, not everyone will live in a care home or not get married. Everyone with Autism is different.

You should also note that Asperger’s sydnrome only became a diagnosis in 1994; before this people where misdiagnosed with conditions such as Schizophrenia.In 2013 the DSM committee decided that rather then having subcategories it would be better to give Autism it’s own, people are now diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder , if their clinician is using the DSM ( some use the ICD=- international, classification of diseases , although autism is not a disease these are the two books which are used to ensure that people are being described and therefore identified in the same way).

There has been a lot of controversy about this change, and the media has reported that Asperger’s syndrome has disappeared and this is untrue, Asperger’s was a diagnosis used to identify people who had autism , no language delay ( meaning they started speaking at the same time as their peers) and a average or above average IQ , as whilst a child or adult with classic / Kanner Autism may present differently the underlying difficulties are the same.

Diagnostic figures show fewer ( it was thought 4;1 but now more likely 2l1 ) girls then boys are diagnosed. However, this does not mean that autism does not affect girls and women, and females can often be bet err at hiding their difficulties, this hiding whether it be through mimicking or masking , can be exhausting and mean that the person is unable to reach their full potentional, because their energy could be being used on what they are good at and passionate about rather then trying to look like a non autistic person .

It is important that Autistic people can feel proud of who they are.

Autism is life long, you do not grow out of it but can learn skills to cope in the non autistic world, this is not the same as receiving tom Autism which is impossible, because that would suggest the difficulties and abilities are not still there, to say someone has recovered may mean you are missing a care of support need a person has.

Here’s a video about the positives of being on the spectrum.