What is Autism and the Autistic Spectrum?


Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to the world around them. This can sometimes be accompanied by learning difficulties. However every autistic person has a difficulty in making sense of the world.

For more information about autism go to the National Autistic Society website.

Asperger syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism but is used to describe a person who is at the “higher functioning” end of the autistic spectrum. However it is also a lifelong disability that affects the way a person communicates, and relates to others.

A number of the traits of autism are common to Asperger Syndrome including:

  • difficulty in social relationships
  • difficulty in communicating
  • limitations in imagination and creative play
  • obsessive special interests
  • love of routines
  • sensory difficulties
  • unpredictable behaviour

For more information about Asperger syndrome go to the National Autistic Society website.

The Autistic spectrum

Some people have found the following series of cartoons “Understanding the Spectrum” by artist Rebecca Burgess to be a very helpful commentary on the idea of the Autistic Spectrum:

See the “Understanding the Spectrum” Webpage

Or download the PDF version:  the spectrum cartoon

Related Conditions

For more information about related conditions go to the National Autistic Society website.

On Sensory Overload

Some people have found this advice on sensory overload to be helpful:

Professor Simon Baron Cohen

talks to the Guardian’s John Harris, in a short discussion about autism broadcast on BBC Radio 4, 13th November 2016

On the Understanding and Acceptance of Autism

See our News item Autism Acceptance. Why Awareness is not Enough.