What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
ASD is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour
It’s estimated that about 1 in every 100 people in the UK has ASD. More boys are diagnosed with the condition than girls.
The characteristics of autism vary from one person to another, but in order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning”.
- Social communication: Autistic people have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Many have a very literal understanding of language, and think people always mean exactly what they say.
- Social interaction: Autistic people often have difficulty ‘reading’ other people – recognising or understanding others’ feelings and intentions – and expressing their own emotions.
- Repetitive behaviour and routines: Autistic people often prefer to have a daily routine so that they know what is going to happen every day. They are often not comfortable with change.
- Highly-focused interests: Many autistic people have intense and highly-focused interests, often from a fairly young age. These can change over time.
- Sensory sensitivity: Autistic people may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light, colours, temperatures or pain.
ASD and Educational Psychology
Educational psychologists can work with children and young people who have been diagnosed with ASD or where it is suspected. Only a Community Paediatrician, working with a multi-disciplinary team, is able to officially diagnose autism. However, Educational Psychologists are able to undertake assessments and other diagnostic work to help inform that decision. A paediatrician will consider an Educational Psychologists report / findings as part of their diagnosis process.
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