What is Autism?
Autism, also referred to as Autism Spectrum Condition or ASC (see Terminology) is a lifelong developmental condition characterised by difficulties in three areas, often referred to as ‘the triad’:
Social interaction, including difficulties relating to others, sharing and forming relationships.
Social communication, including difficulties interpreting and expressing verbal and non-verbal communication.
Imagination and social understanding, including difficulties with imaginative play, pretending, planning ahead and a tendency to focus on the details of a situation at the expense of a broader understanding.
Activities, thinking patterns or interests that are unusual in their intensity or focus are also common in those with an ASC.
ASCs affect people in different ways and to varying degrees of severity, however, sensory perception and motor anomalies or difficulties are almost always experienced. The way an individual presents with an ASC will depend on many factors, including the severity of their experience of the autism triad, the effects of any additional learning disability or condition, and their own unique personality.
Asperger’s Syndrome is sometimes used to describe people with ASCs who are intellectually able and who experienced no language delays in childhood. However, due to changing diagnostic practice, the use of this term is reducing.
ASCs are estimated to affect 1 in every 100 individuals, with more males than females being affected. The exact causes are unknown however, it has been recognised that environmental and genetic factors are involved in causing the changes in brain function which produce symptoms of ASCs.
Although living with an ASC can be challenging for both the person affected and their families, with the right support and encouragement people with autism can live happy and productive lives.
AND recognises that individuals on the autism spectrum face challenges as they become involved in the social life of the home, school and community. It is our belief that they have a positive contribution to make, although both they and the wider community need support to fulfil this potential. A key part of this support lies in the terminology that is used to describe the condition.
There are a number of different terms used to describe people on the autism spectrum such as Autistic Spectrum Disorder, Autism Spectrum Condition and Asperger’s Syndrome. AND will use the following terms in the appropriate context.
Medical Diagnosis: AND acknowledges that there are various terms used to describe autism. These terms are made within a clinical context which is understood by the clinicians; however, they may have a different meaning for those who do not have this background. The term “Autism Spectrum Condition” (ASC) retains the link with a medical diagnosis whilst providing a positive understanding of the person who is on the autism spectrum.
Description of the Individual: The phrase “autism spectrum” reflects the range of abilities and behaviours displayed by individuals who have the diagnosis. It is an indication that strategies which can be effective with one person may not be effective with another. AND will use the phrase “on the autism spectrum” when there is a need to describe the individual, i.e., “John, who is on the autism spectrum…”
Direct Quotations: It is important to include stories of individuals affected by autism, as this can be a source of encouragement to others who are seeking support. When these stories are being reported, the actual terms used by the individuals will be provided in the reports. In such situations, the terminology being used may be useful to the individual in defining themselves or their family member. It may also reflect when a diagnosis was made and the language used at that time.
The aim of AND is to promote a positive image of those who have a diagnosis and the contribution they can make to the wider community.
AND can offer services to individuals who are looking to purchase support through Self-Directed Support funding. Individuals who wish to discuss any aspect of what support is available as well as exploring and agreeing the aims and objectives of support can do so prior to entering into a formal agreement with AND.
Care Inspectorate Reports
We are regularly inspected by the Care Inspectorate. Our most recent reports and their website can be accessed directly here: