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Autism is a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with other people, and how they see the world around them. It’s the name given to a group of conditions that affect a person’s social interaction and behaviour, according to the NHS.
It’s is much more common than people think, with around 700,000 patients in the UK.
Patients are born with autism, and it’s usually diagnosed in children.
But every autistic patient has varying degrees of symptoms, and some may need little or no support for everyday life.
People with autism have difficulties with language and social interactions.
Autistic people may appear to be insensitive, or appear to act “strangely”, according to the National Autistic Society (NAS).
Some may also look for alone time when they’re overloaded by other people, it said.
Seeking comfort from other people is rare in autism, and it may be difficult to form friendships.
You should speak to a doctor if you think that you, or your child, may be autistic.
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“Autistic people often have difficulty ‘reading’ other people – recognising or understanding others’ feelings and intentions – and expressing their own emotions,” said NAS.
“This can make it very hard to navigate the social world.
“Autistic people have difficulties with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice.
“Some autistic people are unable to speak or have limited speech while other autistic people have very good language skills but struggle to understand sarcasm or tone of voice.”
People can be diagnosed with autism when they’re very young, from the age of two. But some people may be diagnosed in later life.
One of the main signs that a child could be on the autism spectrum is not drawing their parents’ attention to a specific object, said the charity.
They may avoid pointing to a certain toy or book that they particularly want to play with.
Getting diagnosed with ASD helps the patient and their families to decide what sort of support they need, it said.
Although it’s relatively common for people to go through life without a diagnosis, wondering why they don’t seem to fit in, it added.
There’s currently no cure for the condition, but there are ways to improve communication skills and help social development.
More than one in every 100 people in the UK have autism. Men are more likely to have ASD than women.
Speak to a doctor if you’re worried about the signs or symptoms of autism.
To find out more about autism or the NAS, visit www.autism.org.uk.
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