Autism is a lifelong condition affecting many areas of development including how a person:
- communicates with other people
- relates to other people
- relates to the World around them.
This is a spectrum condition: while all people with autism share certain areas of difficulty, their condition will affect them in different ways.
Terminology: a range of terms can be used, including:
- autism spectrum disorder
- autistic spectrum difference
Education professionals may prefer the less medical term ‘autism condition’. On this site, ‘autism’ is used throughout, in keeping with recent National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) guidelines.
- Autism is lifelong, characterised by:
- difficulties with social communication and interaction
- restricted and repetitive behaviours or interests
- hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input.
- Difficulties processing the sensory world can affect a person’s ability to communicate and function independently in social situations. This can have a negative impact on education, recreation, employment and social integration.
- SLTs should be integral members of the multi-agency teams providing support to children and adults with autism.
- SLTs have a unique role in:
- identifying the social and communication characteristics,
- contributing to a differential diagnosis of those with autism and in
- identifying co-morbidities
- training others involved in the care and education of those with autism.
View autism sections:
- Introduction: characteristics, aetiology, vulnerability and risk issues.
- Role of speech and language therapy: assessment, diagnosis and management.
- National policy context: national policies, government reports and legislation from across the UK.
- Prevalence and incidence statistics
- Evidence and research
- Guidelines and supporting resources
- RCSLT Bulletin feature articles
- Useful contacts: RCSLT advisers, RCSLT clinical excellence networks, key organisations.
- Reference list
- Website contributors and date of last review
Cross-reference with other topic areas:
- Augmentative and alternative communication
- Developmental speech difficulties
- Language disorder
- Learning disabilities
- Mental health
- Motor disorders
- Social communication disorder
- Visual impairment