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1. What is Autism?

For most, autism is a life-long developmental disability that prevents individuals from properly understanding what they see, hear, and otherwise sense. This results in severe problems of social relationships, communication, and behaviour. Most Individuals with autism have difficulty learning normal patterns of speech and/or communication, (for most non-verbal: communication may take the form of tactile (objects), line drawings, pictures, written, etc. many may understand some speech and or gestures, but are unable to reply in the same communicative way) and appropriate ways to relate to people, objects, and events.


2. What are the characteristics of Autism?

The degree of severity of characteristics differs from person to person, but usually includes the following: Severe delays in language development. Language is slow to develop, if it develops at all. If it does develop, it usually includes peculiar speech patterns of the use of words without attachment to their normal meaning. Those who are able to use language effectively may still use unusual metaphors or speak in a formal and monotonous voice. Severe delays in understanding social relationships. The autistic child often avoids eye contact, resists being picked up, and seems to “tune out” the world around him. This results in a lack of co-operative play with peers, an impaired abillity to develop friendships and an inability to understand other people’s feelings. Inconsistent Patterns of sensory responses. The child who has autism may appear at times to be deaf and fail to respond to words or other sounds. At other times, the same child may be extremely distressed by an everyday noise such as a vacuum cleaner or a dog’s barking. The child may also show an apparent insensitivity to pain and a lack of responsiveness to cold or heat, or may over-react to any of these. Uneven patterns of intellectual functioning. The individual may have peak skills – scattered things done well in relation to normal functioning – such as drawing, music, computations in math, or memorisation of facts with no regard to importance or lack of it. On the other hand, the majority of autistic persons have varying degrees of mental retardation, with only 20 percent having average or above-average intelligence. This combination of intellectual variations makes autism especially perplexing. Marked restriction of activity and interests. A person who has autism may perform repetitive body movements, such as hand flicking, twisting, spinning or rocking. The individual may also display repetition by following the same route, the same order of dressing, or the same schedule every day etc. If changes occur in these routines, the pre-occupied child or adult usually becomes very distressed.


3. What causes autism?

The cause of autism is still unknown. Some research suggests a physical problem affecting those parts of the brain that process language and information coming in from the senses. There may be some imbalance of certain chemicals in the brain. Genetic factors may sometimes be involved. Autism may indeed result from a combination of several “causes”.


4. How common is autism?

Autism is one of the four major developmental disabilities. It occurs in 5 per 10,000 (Low functioning) and approximately 18 per 10,000 (within the autism continuum) See Autism Continuum.


5. Who is affected with autism?

Autism is distributed throughout the world among all races, nationalities, and social classes. Four out of every five people with autism are male.


6. What is the most common problem with Autism?

Individuals with autism have extreme difficulty in learning language and social skills and in relating to people. (See structured teaching.)


7. How does autism affect behaviour?

In addition to severe language and socialisation problems, people with autism often experience extreme hyperactivity or unusual passivity in relating to parents, family members and other people.


8. How severe are behaviour problems in people with autism?

In autism, behaviour problems range from very severe to mild. Severe behaviour problems take the form of highly unusual, and in some cases, even self-injurious behaviour. These behaviours may persist and be difficult to change. In its milder form, autism resembles a learning disability. Usually, however, even people who are only mildly affected are substantially handicapped due to deficits in the areas of communication and socialization.


9. Does autism occur in conjunction with other disabilities?

Autism can occur by itself or in association with other developmental disorders such as mental retardation, learning disabilities, epilepsy etc. (see Autism & seizures) Autism is best considered as a disability on a continuum from mild to severe. The number of handicaps and degree of mental retardation will determine the location on that continuum.


10. What is the difference between Autism and Mental Retardation?

Most people with mental retardation show relatively even skill development, while individuals with autism typically show uneven skill development with deficits in certain areas – most frequently in their abililty to communicate and relate to others – and distinct skills in other areas. It is important to distinguish autism from mental retardation or other disorders since diagnostic confusion may result in referral to inappropriate and ineffective treatment techniques.


11. Can people with autism be helped?

Yes. Autism is treatable. Studies show that all people who have autism can improve significantly with appropriate intervention. Many individuals with autism eventually become more responsive to others as they learn to understand the world around them.


12. How can persons with autism learn best?

With appropriate specialised training parents, teachers, carers etc., using specially structured programmes that emphasize individual instruction, persons with autism can learn to function at home and in the community. Some can lead nearly normal lives.


13. What kinds of jobs can individuals with autism do?

In general, individuals with autism perform best at jobs which are structured and involve a degree of repetition. Some people who have autism are working as artists, piano tuners, painters, farm workers, office workers, computer operators, dishwashers, assembly line workers, or competent employees of sheltered workshops or other sheltered work settings.


14. What leisure activities do persons with autism enjoy?

Individuals who have autism often enjoy the same recreational activities as their non-handicapped peers. Some like music, swimming, hiking, camping, working puzzles, playing table games, etc. Most enjoy simple, predictable play, that they have control of.


15. What additional services are needed for children with autism?

Children with autism need: respite care, before and after-school care, summer programmes, recreational programmes, group homes, other residential living options, pre-vocational training, summer school programmes,


16. What do people with autism need when they become adults?

Adults with autism need: vocational training, job opportunities, group homes, supervised accommodation, other residential living options, recreational opportunities.


17. How can people who have autism learn meaningful job skills?

With the help of specially trained job coaches, people with autism can learn skills that will enable them to successfully work in competitive employment, supported employment, or in sheltered workshop programs.


18. In what ways can persons with autism have relative independence in living?

They can learn skills to live as independently as possible through specifically designed programmes in group homes and supervised accommodation.


19. What system, approach, treatment, method etc. should I use, or is best?

We cannot answer this Question, and would not attempt to try, only to say that structure is universally accepted across all philosophies.


20. Under construction

If you suspect autism, what to do, where to go etc…..