Autism is a lifelong neurodivergence that affects how autistic people perceive the world, think and behave, and communicate and interact with others. Put simply, autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently. One percent of New Zealanders are estimated to receive an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis.
What is Autism?
Autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Many autistic adults consider that being autistic is fundamental to their identity.
Autism is different for everyone. Some people are affected more than others. For example, some autistic people do not use verbal language, while others have excellent spoken language skills but may find it challenging to understand what others mean.
While all autistic people share some common differences in the way they see, hear and feel the world, they all have different strengths, abilities, and challenges which affect their lives in different ways at different ages and in different environments.
No two autistic people are the same.
What causes autism?
We do not know what causes autism. The most popular theories suggest that both genetic and environmental factors play a part. Contrary to popular belief, evidence shows that neither diet choices nor vaccines cause autism.
Living with autism
Autistic people can find social interaction challenging and may have different ways of communicating. Children with autism may find making eye contact challenging. They also may struggle to initiate a conversation or interpret other people’s body language and feelings. Routines are often crucial to autistic people and modifications to their routines can be stressful.
Some programmes can assist autistic people in handling social situations. With the right support structures in place, individuals can enjoy group social activities and learn life skills such as eating and washing independently. Subject to a person’s individual needs, assisted living for adults may be a useful choice. There are many sensory products available for children with autism. These play the dual role of being good for both children’s learning and enhancing their sensory experiences.
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