Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), often referred to as autism, is a lifelong neuro-developmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates with and relates to other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning each individual will be affected in different ways across all abilities, strengths, difficulties and intelligence. Although each individual is affected to varying degrees, they all share key areas of difference: social communication, social interaction, social imagination and sensory processing differences. 

Often individuals go undiagnosed, sometimes even into adulthood, as those on the spectrum do not “look” disabled or different to their peers. Parents have said that family members or the public often say “your child is naughty” as the difficulties are not easy to see. Adults have also explained how they feel misunderstood. 

What causes autism?

Research into autism is continuous, however the cause is still unknown. Everyone has their own genetic inheritance, personality and life experiences that shape who they are. Professionals have concluded that autism is a complex condition that children are born with that occurs as a result of possible genetic predisposition, environment and numerous other unknown factors. What is known for certain is that autism is not caused by a person’s upbringing or their social circumstances, and is not the fault of the individual with the diagnosis or their parents. 

Is there a cure?  

Currently, there is no cure for autism. However, there are a range of interventions that enable learning and development - everyone with autism can benefit from a timely diagnosis and access to appropriate services and support. 

For more information, download our About Autism document.