Is it normal to Have Autism?

Autism is a mental condition that develops in childhood and is characterised by a difficulty in communicating and forming relationships. Autism is a lot more common than you might think - it is believed that there are around 700,000 people on the autistic spectrum in the UK alone, meaning 1 in 100 people is affected by some form of autism.

In the clip above from The Undateables, Luke, who lives with autism, is excited to be going on a date. Although quite the language whizz, at times, he finds it difficult to communicate his feelings due to his autism. Watch the full episode on All 4 here.

Here, we give you the lowdown on what it's like to live with autism, the causes and cures, and how to help and support anyone who you know may be struggling with it.

Autism - what does it mean?

Somebody with autism will perceive the world differently to other people, and they can often find this very confusing and frightening. Autistic people are usually overwhelmed by noises, bright lights and manic environments, and have difficulty in recognising emotions in other people. A lot of the time, they will also struggle to keep their own emotions under control; however, no two people with autism are the same - some may have huge difficulties in expressing themselves in a clear manner, others may find this a lot easier. Some people with autism could be very socially interactive, whilst others may be more subdued.

  • Asperger Syndrome

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism that affects people in a slightly different way. Although people with Asperger Syndrome may not have the common learning difficulties that those with autism have, they may have other, more specific learning difficulties. It is also common for people who have Asperger Syndrome to have above average intelligence.

Diagnosis and treatment

As mentioned, autism will show itself in a range of different ways, and will usually be diagnosed after a number of people have identified it - this includes a speech therapist, psychiatrist and/or psychologist. Factors such as the person's ability to communicate and whether they display repetitive, often obsessive, patterns of behaviour will be considered before a diagnosis is made. What causes autism is still unclear, but research suggests that it is a combination of both genetic and environmental factors.

There is no cure for autism, but there are a number of ways to manage it. Find out more here.

How can I help someone with autism?

It's not always easy to communicate with somebody who has autism - a lot of the time, it may feel as if they are distracted and not listening to you. If communicating verbally doesn't seem to work, try using gestures. A person with autism may use a number of different methods to communicate; these include, but are not limited to:

  • Reaching out
  • crying and/or screaming
  • staring at the object they want
  • taking your hand over to the object that they want
  • Repeating other people's words

Try following an autistic person's lead rather than directing them, slow down the pace, and try to communicate with them face-to-face so that they can learn to pick up non-verbal cues. Imitating an autistic person's actions can be a good way of gaining their attention. Find more ways of communicating with someone who has autism here.

Support on the spectrum

If you'd like further information on autism, check out the Channel 4 support site

Check out the Channel 4 support site (This link opens in a new window)

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