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.

Understanding Autism Training

Free 30 min interactive online Understanding Autism training, for parents and professionals from ‘Act for Autism’: https://actforautism.co.uk/info/workshops/

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.

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

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

Autism Facts, Myths, Statistics, History

See this page from the National Autistic Society

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.

I am listening…

I am listening. I am not looking into your eyes because I am trying to concentrate on your words. I am paying attention. I just cannot process any more information. I do have feelings. My facial expression just does not match. I did notice. I just was not sure how to respond. I try to connect. But it is still hard to relate. I do care. I just find it hard to translate how I feel in a way that makes sense to others. I do want to talk to you. I am just not so good in a crowded room. I am not being badly behaved. I get anxious and overwhelmed by my senses. I am not being rude, lazy or antisocial. I use earphones, sleep and solitude as coping strategies. And I am not making excuses…..I am just trying to say that our brains are wired differently.”

Informing Autism Service Improvement Through Lived Experience (insight for professionals and others)

‘Informing Autism Service Improvement Through Lived Experience Insight’ is a compendium of feedback from the NHSE/I Midlands Autism workstream ‘Expert by Experience focus group’ to date. It details the priorities identified by the group, supported by feedback received in focus groups along with direct quotes from the group members themselves and other experts by experience (autistic people, or their parents/ families) who have fed back outside of the group.

Informing Autism Service Improvement Through Lived Experience Insight v6