What is autism?

Dear Friend,

It always amazes me how tongue tied I become each time someone asks me: What is autism? It happened again today, and I walked away from the conversation feeling immensely stupid. I have a son with autism, I write a blog about our life with autism, I read extensively, I've done the courses, I live and breath it for goodness sake but I still can't find the words to tell someone what it is.  I stumble over my words, um and aarrhh and generally make a right pigs ear of it.

I have decided that today I will find a better answer...



So my friends, What is autism?

Here are some definitions I found by looking on Google:
  • Autism is what's known as a lifelong developmental disability which affects 1 in 100 people in the UK. It affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them. ‘Developmental disability’ is a term that covers a wide range of conditions, but what it basically means is that a person develops differently and may have problems with intellectual, physical, learning, language and/or behaviour skills.  Ambitious about autism.
  • Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. The National Autistic Society They even provide a video.





  • Autism is a developmental disorder that can cause problems with social interaction, language skills and physical behaviour. People with autism may also be more sensitive to everyday sensory information. To people with the condition the world can appear chaotic with no clear boundaries, order or meaning. The disorder varies from mild to so severe that a person may be almost unable to communicate and need round-the-clock care. BBC Science.
  • Autism is known as a complex developmental disability. Experts believe that Autism presents itself during the first three years of a person's life. The condition is the result of a neurological disorder that has an effect on normal brain function, affecting development of the person's communication and social interaction skills. Medical News Today
  • Now I'm not a huge fan of Autism Speaks because I don't think my son needs to be cured of anything (he isn't sick) but I do like the new advert they have produced and think it can go a long way towards raising awareness and understanding. I particularly like how it is based on the experiences of and partly narrated by a boy with autism.



  • I really like the National Autistic Society's easy read information this gives clear simple, no fuss guidance.
It is worth noting that Google gives me about 73,400,000 results when I type in; What is autism?

It appears that there are as many definitions of Autism as their are different people on the spectrum. As the saying goes, so you've met one person with autism then you've met one person with Autism.

Maybe that is the issue, there in a nutshell...

Everybody has a unique experience of what autism is! 

What autism means for us is also really difficult to define because actually as hubby rather brilliantly put it; It doesn't matter to me if our boys are autistic or whatever they're just mine and I love them. And I totally 100% agree. After all Autism is not something to be feared it is a part of a child who needs to be loved. 

But actually we need to live outside of our family 'safe' bubble.

What do people really need to know?

I believe the people that ask me; What is autism? Are actually asking a different question entirely.

Family, friends, teachers, health professionals, shop assistants want to know what they should do or what to expect; they want guidance. So often people have only seen the extremes (ranging from Einstein or Rain Man to non verbal) and some may actually be scared of what to expect but may be too polite to ask.

People really, want or need to know what 'autism' means for us and how they can help.




I asked my 6 year old (non autistic) and his response was spot on:

Autism means that sometimes my brother's head gets really full and he gets stressed or upset.

Simple.

Perfect...

Disclaimer: This is our experience but as autism is a broad spectrum disorder not every autistic person will have the same problems.





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