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An Introduction to

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism is a ‘hidden disability’, meaning it is not easy to recognise
when someone has the condition. When you see the following
pattern (on a wristband, card or mobile device) it means
someone has autism and wants you to know so that you can
support them:

Individuals with autism have difficulty in accessing sport and

leisure activities and other services. Support from staff can
make a huge difference, understanding autism has the power to
change lives. The information to follow is provided to help you
to understand autism and ways in which you can support
children and adults with the condition.
Autism Spectrum Disorder

It is estimated that 1 in every 100 people in the UK have an Autism Spectrum

Disorder (ASD)

ASD is a lifelong condition and affects people from all backgrounds

ASD affects more males than females

Many people with an ASD have not been diagnosed, and therefore may not
realise they have the condition

This is especially true for adults

Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism Spectrum Disorders are also known by other names,



Autistic Spectrum
Childhood Autism
Condition (ASC)

Autism Spectrum Disorder

We refer to an Autism ‘Spectrum’ because of the way in

which the condition affects individuals can vary

On one end of the On the other end

spectrum people with individuals may have
autism may have an an average or above
additional learning average intellect and
disability and be more may function at a
severely impaired higher level
Signs of Autism

For information on the SIGNS of autism visit:

Autism Spectrum Disorder
Individuals with an ASD have impairments in the
following areas:

Social Imagination
Social Social Interaction
and Flexibility of

And may also demonstrate:

Restricted or
Restricted, repetitive Unusual sensory
repetitive patterns of
interests or activities responses
Impairments in social communication

Individuals with an ASD have impairments in social communication.

The way in which the person is affected varies.
These impairments can include difficulties in using and understanding:

eye contact
tone of voice
Impairments in social communication

How this impacts on day to day life:

In order to understand when

someone is being sarcastic, we
Avoiding eye contact maybe Speaking in a monotone voice
analyse many non verbal cues.
interpreted as the individual maybe lead to emotions being
This means that people with
being rude, it is not. misinterpreted by others.
ASD may struggle to recognise
and appreciate sarcasm.

We often rely on tone of voice, People with ASD may interpret

gesture and eye contact as well language literally and so may
Someone with ASD may not be
as words to convey out point. misunderstand understand
able to use gesture or interpret
People with ASD may not be idioms (“pull your socks up”)
others gestures.
able to use or understand these and metaphors (“my head was
easily. spinning”).
Impairments in social interaction

Individuals with an ASD have impairments in social interaction.

The way in which the person is affected varies.

These impairments can include difficulties in:

building and sustaining

relationships sharing

giving and receiving

compliments enjoying conversation

showing concern for others understanding humour

Impairments in social interaction

How this impacts on day to day life:

Children with ASD may find turn People with ASD find it difficult to
Children may find it difficult to
taking and sharing difficult. This can develop and maintain friendships
instigate or join in play with other
cause problems with friendships and relationships. This does not
with other children. mean that they do not want friends.

People with ASD may not enjoy

conversation in the same way, and People with ASD have difficulty in
therefore prefer to discuss factual Children and adults with ASD may understanding the rules of social
issues rather than enjoying the find it difficult to show empathy, this relationships. This may cause many
interaction with another. They may can make them appear ‘cold’ to issues including them offering
not understand signs of the other others. truthful opinion rather than a tactful
person wanting to end the one.
conversation etc.
Impairments in social imagination and
flexibility of thought
People with an ASD have impairments in social imagination.
Again, the extent varies from one individual to another.

The impact of this can affect many areas of daily life and may
include difficulties in:

predicting reactions and

problem solving

relating to others creative activities

planning coping with changes

Impairments in social imagination and
flexibility of thought
How this impacts on day to day life:

Playing team games often relies on

When problem solving, we rely on People with ASD find it difficult to
social imagination to predict how
our social imagination to predict predict how others may be feeling
other people will interact in the
possible outcomes. This is difficult or how they will react due to
game. This can be difficult for
for someone with an ASD. problems with social imagination.
people with an ASD.

Some people with ASD have

Planning can be difficult without Coping with changes can be difficult
difficulties with creative
good social imagination, people without good social imagination.
imagination. Others have good
with ASD often rely on calendars or People with ASD usually prefer
creative imagination, and only the
planners to help them with this. routines to unpredictability.
social imagination is affected.
Sensory issues

Many people with an autism can have sensory issues.

The individual with ASD’s perception of the senses can be
heightened or decreased. All the senses can be affected.

tactile • (touch)
vestibular • (movement)
proprioceptive • (body position)
visual • (looking)
auditory • (hearing)
olfactory • (smell)

gustatory • (taste)
Sensory issues
How this impacts on day to day life:

Decreased feelings of pain Sensitivity to lighting in shops Difficulties around noisy traffic

Inability to tolerate certain

Dislike of certain colours Sensitivity to touch

Distress/anxiety in busy
Autism Spectrum Disorder

How you can help:

Being aware of Autism Spectrum Disorders and the difficulties experienced

by individuals with ASD is key.

If struggling ask- ask the individual, carers or seek advice from others.

Be understanding, people with ASD have a lot to offer society but may need

Consider how you can adapt the environment to decrease sensory issues
(decrease noise, dim lighting, find a quiet space etc.)

Adapt your communication style.

Adapt your communication

Communication- adapting your communication can help an

individual with ASD:

Allow time relying on
for the gesture,
Speak individual facial
slowly and to process expression
clearly information or tone of

Don’t use Keep

idioms or instructions
metaphors short
Autism Spectrum Disorder

To complete the questionnaire and to get your personalised ASD

awareness certificate visit:


You can also apply to become an ASD aware organisation. For more
information please visit:

Further information

Further information and links to other resources can be

found at:

or email enquiries to ASDinfo@WLGA.gov.uk

ASDinfoWales @ASDinfoWales