Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a fulfilling life of their own choosing.
Every child is unique, so any description needs to be taken as a general guide. However, all children diagnosed as having an autistic spectrum disorder will show difficulties in three main areas referred to as the ‘triad of impairment’.