Autism affects the way people communicate and experience the world around them.

Autism is a spectrum of developmental conditions.

Every autistic person is different. Some are able to learn, live and work independently, while many have learning differences or co-occurring health conditions that require specialist support.

Key symptoms

Autism can be diagnosed at any age and affects males and females. Common symptoms of autism are

  • delayed or absent speech
  • difficulty with listening, concentrating and understanding
  • frequent repetition of words and phrases
  • taking things literally
  • difficulty sensing and interpreting people’s feelings
  • difficulty expressing feelings
  • over or under sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, smell or light
  • rituals or repetitive behaviours
  • disliking changes to routine
  • difficulty making friends and socialising

Research is helping us to

Understand the autistic brain

Spotting the very first signs of autism in 6 month old babies means we can offer early support and diagnosis

Educate society to adapt to and embrace autistic people

Understanding that each autistic person is different helps identify diverse challenges and strengths

Develop services that can help autistic people to live long, happy, healthy lives

Focusing on the key challenges of mental health, physical health, language and epilepsy to make a difference to the lives of autistic people

Five facts about autism

  1. One in 67 people in the UK are autistic, but many adults have never been diagnosed
  2. Autism affects both males and females
  3. One in three autistic people has a learning disability
  4. Seven in 10 autistic people have challenges with mental health
  5. Epilepsy is more common in autistic people

Every autistic person is different

Rhi, an autistic woman diagnosed late in life, offers some communication tips

  1. Don’t be offended. “We might react honestly or may avoid shaking your hand, but we're not being rude.”
  2. Don’t expect eye contact. “It can be really hard for some of us. I can listen to you much more easily if I look away.”
  3. Do be patient and understanding. “We may take longer to process the meaning of your words, give us a little time if we need it.”
  4. Do treat autistic people with respect. “If we are quiet or behave differently, don’t speak down to us, treat us as equals.”
  5. Don't be sad that I'm autistic. “It's just the way I process the world, it can give me challenges, but it gives me great joy too. I wouldn't be me without it!”