Autism: The Facts

What is Autism?

Autism is one of a group of closely related disorders which include Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome and Pervasive Developmental Disorder (Not Otherwise Specified). All of these disorders are now known under the umbrella term of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

It is a lifelong and complex developmental disability and is observed before the age of three years.

No single cause has been found but researchers are sure that it is neurobiological in origin. There appears to be a genetic link in some cases, with more than one person in the family being diagnosed with Autism.

It is more common in males than females.

Researchers suggest that as many as 1 in 100 people in Australia are diagnosed with autism i.e. up to 230,000 Australians. (www.autismspectrum.org.au)

What are the features of autism?

The range and severity of difficulties vary widely so that no two people have the same mix of behaviours. Difficulties can be identified in 3 main areas – impaired social relating, impaired communication and unique behaviours.

These include:

What helps?

People do not grow out of autism, but with appropriate and timely intervention, can gain many skills to assist them to function in society and to lead fulfilling and useful lives.

Many behaviours of the person with autism are compounded by over- stimulation in noisy, unpredictable and unknown environments. People with autism thrive on consistency, predictability and the opportunity to follow their interests. With help they can respond more flexibly to their environment.

Effects on parents and siblings?

A diagnosis of autism will have a profound effect on all members of the family and may change the course of family life over many years. Parents can feel inadequate and guilty, overwhelmed by the demands on them, worried for their other children and sensitive to the unthinking reactions of other people. Siblings may become overly responsible or feel they are missing out. Sadness, resentment, fear, embarrassment and guilt are natural reactions of all family members. For many, the struggles imposed by the condition lead to exhaustion and despair.

Holidays which for most people are pleasant interludes, can add even greater stress to families coping with autism. Puzzle House will provide an opportunity for family members to relax and enjoy individual pursuits whilst bonding as a unit.