What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong, neurodevelopmental condition that affects how a person communicates with, relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them and Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to everyone else.
Autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’ and is with an individual for life. Autistic people often feel that being Autistic is a central part of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition which means that all autistic people will share certain characteristics, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people may also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, which will affect the level of support they require to thrive.
All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop in their own way and with the right support, all can be helped to live a fulfilling life that they choose.
Different names for Autism
There have been several different names used to describe Autism over the years such as; Autism, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC), Classic Autism, Kanner Autism, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), High Functioning Autism (HFA), Asperger Syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).
The reason for this variation in terminology is due to the different diagnostic manuals used- DSM and ICD- and updates to those manuals which update and change terminology. The different Autism profiles presented by individuals also affects the terminology used at diagnosis.
Due to changes to the main diagnostic manual, the DSM, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is likely to be the most common diagnostic term.
At Neurodiversity Now, we refer to the Autism Spectrum as Autism Spectrum Condition or ASC because we do not believe that we have a ‘disorder’ in the way the word is defined. We have a condition that is often challenging when faced with modern societal structures and routines, but each and every Autistic person has super powers and skills, so we do not refer to Autism as a disorder.
National Autistic Society: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx