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Fifty Facts About Autism

Updated on July 14, 2013
Autism Awareness Ribbon
Autism Awareness Ribbon | Source

1) Autism is a lifelong condition that without the right and adequate support can be greatly disabling and have a profound effect on the individuals and their families.

2) Autism is not just a childhood condition. Children do not grow out of autism and so will have the same difficulties even once they are adults.

3) Autism is incurable but being given the right support can make a huge difference to people’s lives.

4) Only approximately 15% of adults who have autism are in full time work. Over 60% say they want to work but are not receiving and help or support to enable them to do so.

5) Autism varies greatly from person to person. Having autism is like having blue eyes or brown hair; it is a part of the person but does not necessarily define who they are or what they can do.

6) The National Autistic Society’s Sybil Elgar School became the first autism specific school in the Uk when it opened in 1965.

7) The United Nations declared 2th April as World Autism Awareness Day in 2008.

8) The Autism Research Centre (ARC) in Cambridge was opened in 1999. The ARC has many scientists and staff from a range of disciplines including psychiatry, paediatrics, biochemistry and cognitive neuroscience who are working together using state of the art technologies to learn more about autism.

9) The government published the Adult Autism Strategy in 2010. It was planned to ensure that adults who have autism get the support they need.

10) Autism is a hidden disability. You cannot tell that someone has autism just by looking at them.

Children with autism often develop a intense interest in a particular subject.
Children with autism often develop a intense interest in a particular subject. | Source

11) Many people who have autism become fascinated with certain subjects and want to learn everything they can about it. This can lead to them becoming greatly knowledgeable in that area. These are often known as special interests.

12) Special interests, repetitive behaviours and routines can provide a sense of security and also enjoyment for people who have autism.

13) Special interests can also help people to improve their self-esteem and develop social skills. They focus on things that the person is good at rather than on what they struggle with because they have autism. Social skills can be developed by joining groups or online communities based around the special interest. Many people who have autism find this easier than the seemingly random socialising of day to day life.

14) The Autism Helpline (0808 800 4104) provide impartial and confidential information, advice and support for people with autism and their families and carers.

15) Austrian paediatrician Hans Asperger first described the condition that later became known as Asperger syndrome in 1944.

16) Leo Kanner first described autism as a condition in 1943.

17) Although many people with autism struggle with socialisation and forming friendships and relationships, with the right support they can form meaningful friendships and happy relationships. Some may even go on to get married and have children of their own.

18) The National Autistic Society runs befriending schemes that pair individuals with autism with volunteers to attend groups, activities or socialise together. These schemes can help people develop self-confidence and improve their skills and understanding of other people.

19) A 2012 survey found that over 30% of people had waited three years or more for a diagnosis of autism.

20) Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) has many similarities to autism. PDA causes people to avoid any demands made on them by others because they feel highly anxious when they feel that they are not in control.

Concepts that typically developing children enjoy, such as father Christmas may be confusing and even frightening to children who have autism.
Concepts that typically developing children enjoy, such as father Christmas may be confusing and even frightening to children who have autism. | Source

21) People who have autism may feel emotions intensely which can lead to them being easily overwhelmed by their own and other people’s emotions.

22) The Lorna Wing Centre was the first service in the Uk to provide diagnosis’, assessments and advice to people with autism.

23) Autism can present itself different in girls than it does in boys. Many people and professionals are not fully aware of this and it can make it harder for women and girls to gain an accurate diagnosis.

24) Before the 1960’s it was generally considered that people who have autism where unable to be educated and where excluded from the education system.

25) Autism is not a degenerative condition.

26) The National Autistic Society celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012.

27) Routines can help to provide structure and predictability to someone with autism, in a seemingly chaotic world.

28) Preparing a person for changes in advance and taking lots of time to explain and reassure them can help a person with autism cope with changes in life. Preparations could involve role plays, talks, pictures or photographs, using maps, socials stories, books and videos.

29) Abstract concepts such as Father Christmas or the Easter Bunny can be challenging for someone with autism to understand and even frightening. They may also become focused on aspects not so picked up by typically developing children such as the idea of a stranger coming into their house.

30) Individuals with autism often find visual supports in daily life such as visual timetables, symbols and illustrated instructions and social stories very helpful in managing day to day life. Lists can also be greatly beneficial.

Timetables and visual supports such as calenders can be of great support to those who have autism.
Timetables and visual supports such as calenders can be of great support to those who have autism. | Source

31) Being non-verbal does not mean that someone is mentally impaired.

32) Autism can cause people to have a very literal understanding of language so using simple and straight forward literal and logical language can make it much easier for them to understanding what is expected of or wanted from them.

33) People who have autism can be above average intelligence but in all cases. Just like typically developing children intelligence and ability can vary greatly. Because of other difficulties it can be harder for children and adults with autism to show their skills and level of intelligence.

34) Prospects is a scheme that helps adults with autism build skills, prepare for interviews and find jobs. They also support employers with recruiting, training and supporting staff who have autism.

35) Adults and children with autism can care very deeply about other people but may find it hard to express this fact leading to other people feeling that they do not care.

36) Autism is believed to have multiple causes though these are not currently fully understood.

37) Autism is a neuro-developmental condition.

38) Autism is a spectrum condition, meaning that it exists in many variations and degrees of severity.

39) There is no simple test for autism. Diagnosis relies on observation, often by multiple professional as well as a child’s school and parents and how a person’s behaviours and difficulties fit into a set of diagnostic criteria.

40) One theory about autism states that environmental factors may trigger predisposed genes to mutate and result in what we know as autism.

41) Autism is defined by three distinct areas of difficulties: communication challenges, impaired social interactions and repetitive behaviours.

42) Autism may exist alongside other medical conditions. These can include seizures, ADHD, ADD, anxiety disorders, learning disabilities, depression, Tourette’s syndrome, ODD, PSTD and bipolar disorder.

43) The word autism means ‘alone’ and comes from the Greek ‘autos’ which means self.

44) Many children who have autism have been greatly help by regular contact with animals such as horses and dogs.

45) People who have autism may also be over (hypersensitive) or under (hyposensitive) sensitive to sensory information.

46) Although people with autism may also have learning disabilities or difficulties, autism itself is not a learning disability or mental health problem.

47) Autism is believed to effect on in 100 children in the Uk.

48) People with autism who have an extraordinary talent are known as autistic savants.

49) There are many different treatments and therapies for autism but due to the great amount of variation between individual cases of autism not all are successful for everyone. Finding a therapy that works well may take a while and mean trying many things unsuccessfully first.

50) Children who have a sibling or parent with autism are at higher risk of having autism as well.

© 2013 Claire


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    • brutishspoon profile image


      3 years ago from Darlington, England

      My mam was classed as thick when she was at school. She loved art and still does and trained as a seamstress. However because of when that was Autism within the higher functioning end of the spectrum was not as recognised.

    • Elderberry Arts profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lincolnshire, UK

      It is always great to hear of people leading happy and successful lives. I think that is really helpful to parents to hear as it cna make such a huge difference to how they see their children's futures. Thank you for helping to make the world better for people on the specturm :)Good luck to your daughter. Two of my son are on the spectrum - one has Aspergers and the other autism.

    • brutishspoon profile image


      3 years ago from Darlington, England

      I am one of those with Autism who has managed to get and hold down a full time job, (took a few years to get to that point. I always felt uncomfortable in interviews.) I met my partner through our mutual interest in Athletics in which we both gained coaching badges despite us both being on the spectrum. We have 2 children both girls our eldest shows signs of autism, like use she seems to be at the high functioning end of the spectrum. So it shows that for a lucky few a normal life can be lead. I do my part by talking to parents of autistic children to try and help them understand their kids and help them to nurture them. I never received any support as a child and nor did my partner as we were not diagnosed as children. We don't get support for our eldest yet as she is not fully diagnosed. It can be hard to live as an autistic individual, I suffer from depression and problems with certain lights and smells.


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