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What is Autism?

Understanding Autism
There is a debate about the most appropriate and accurate language which should be used to define autism. Within the Solihull All Age Autism Strategy  the term Autistic Spectrum Condition is used as it reflects that individuals with an autism spectrum condition have areas of cognitive strength, rather than solely a disorder which requires a medical diagnosis. The term Autistic Spectrum Disorder is still widely preferred by many people, as they feel that the term “condition” suggests that autism can be “cured”. From a medical perspective, and at the time of diagnosis the term Autistic Spectrum Disorder is used to ensure compliance with diagnostic standards.Autism can be thought of as a ‘hidden disability’ as people may not be able to tell that someone is autistic from their outward appearance.

Within children’s services, we use the following definition from the Autism Education Trust: Autism is a term used to describe a neurological difference in brain development that has a marked effect on how a person develops. There are four areas of difference that are particularly important for staff in schools and educational settings to understand and pay attention to because most pupils with autism will have individual educational needs to be met in these areas. Every child and young person on the autism spectrum will have a range of abilities within each of these areas. Some children and young people on the spectrum may have high levels of anxiety.

Pupils on the autism spectrum have differences in:

  • Interacting
  • Processing information
  • Sensory processing
  • Communication

Autism is known as a spectrum condition because of the range of difficulties which affect people with autism, and also because of the range of ways the difficulties may present in different people.

National information

Please also visit the Solihull Children’s Community Therapies website. They offer children and young people who live in the Solihull area a wide range of therapy services for those that may be experiencing difficulties with communication, physical movement or general everyday activities, or difficulties that may indicate an Autism Spectrum Disorder. All Children’s Community Therapies are based at Chelmsley Wood Primary Care Centre. To contact them, please call their shared admin team on 0121 722 8010.