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Learning Disability and Autism


What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? (ASD)

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people. It also affects how a person makes sense of the world around them.

Autism is known as a spectrum condition both because of the range of difficulties that affect adults with autism and the way that these present in different people. This means that while some people can lead relatively independent lives, others will require significant support.

You can find out more about ASD on the NHS website (Opens in a new window)

Difficulties Faced by People Living With Autism

People with autism have a wide spectrum of needs and, therefore, no two people are the same. Often people with autism have difficulty

  • understanding verbal and non-verbal communication, such as gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice;
  • recognising and understanding other people's feelings and managing their own;
  • understanding and predicting other people's intentions and behaviour and coping with new or unfamiliar situations.

Many people with autism may experience sensory sensitivity or under sensitivity to certain sounds, tastes, smells, colours or touch. Many people can also have other conditions such as Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), a learning disability, dyspraxia, dysphasia and difficulties understanding the spoken word.

Getting a Diagnosis

A diagnosis is the formal identification of autism. This will be done by a health professional such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist.

Having a diagnosis is helpful for two reasons:

  1. It helps people with autism, and their families, to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them.
  2. It enables people to access services and support.

Your GP can refer you to a diagnostic service.

You can find out more about diagnosis on the NHS website (Opens in a new window)

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