What is an Autism Spectrum Condition?

Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) are a range of related developmental disorders that begin in childhood and persist throughout adulthood.  ASC is an umbrella term used to describe conditions including Asperger’s Syndrome, Autism and Pervasive Developmental Disorder.

ASCs can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are grouped into three broad categories:

  • Problems and difficulties with social interaction, such as a lack of understanding and awareness of other people’s emotions and feelings.
  • Impaired language and communication skills, such as delayed language development and an inability to start conversations or take part in them fully.
  • Unusual patterns of thought and physical behaviour. This includes making repetitive physical movements, such as hand tapping or twisting. The individual may develop set routines of behaviour, which can upset him/her if the routines are broken.

What Are The Symptoms Of ASCs?

ASCs can cause a wide range of symptoms, which are grouped into three broad categories:

 Social communication difficulties

  • Difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal language
  • Takes things very literally
  • Unable to take turns in a conversation
  • Difficulty in interpreting facial expressions or tone of voice
  • Finds understanding jokes or sarcasm very difficult to understand
  • Only wants to talk about their own interests

Social interaction difficulties

  • Has difficulty expressing their own emotions
  • Unable to recognise emotions or feelings in others
  • Appears to be insensitive
  • Prefers to spend time on their own
  • Appears to behave inappropriately from time to time

Social imagination difficulties

  • Difficulty in understanding people’s feelings
  • Unable to think ahead and predict what might happen, nor understand the implications of a course of action
  • Does not understand the concept of danger
  • Finds it difficult to engage in imaginative play or role playing
  • Has a dislike for new or unfamiliar situations
  • Does not like changes in routine

Individuals with ASC may also suffer some form of sensory sensitivity, such as not liking the smell of something or the feel of labels in their clothes.

They may also have a special interest that they can “hyperfocus” on, beyond the levels of normal interests or hobbies.

What Are The Causes Of ASCs?

The exact cause of ASCs is unknown.  However, there is evidence to suggest that both genetic and environmental factors contribute to the development of ASCs including genetic links, chemical imbalances in the brain and additives in food.

How Common Are ASCs?
ASCs affects approximately half a million people in the UK alone.  This is about 1 in every 100 people.

What Is The Treatment For ASCs?

Unfortunately, there is no typical or prescribed medication that is able to relieve the symptoms of ASCs.

Key to good management and optimising the life of those with ASCs and their families is a thorough understanding of the disorder.

However, there are other alternative helpful therapeutic strategies available including:

  • Speech and language therapy
  • Sensory integration therapy
  • Social skills training including group work
  • Parent/Family education
  • Specialist counselling
  • Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
  • Family based therapy
  • Dietetics/ Nutritional Advice

Autism Assessments

Learn more about the Autism Assessment Services that we offer by selecting the appropriate offering below.