The National Autistic Society

  • The National Autistic Society is the UK's leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families. Founded in 1962, it provides information, support and pioneering services, and campaigns for a better world for people on the autism spectrum.
  • To find out more about autism or the NAS, visit www.autism.org.uk.
  • Follow the NAS on Twitter (@Autism) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/NationalAutisticSociety).

What is autism?

  • Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
  • More than 1 in 100 people are on the autism spectrum, including an estimated 700,000 people in the UK.
  • Every person on the autism spectrum is different. It can present some serious challenges – but, with the right support and understanding, autistic people and their families can live full lives.
  • Although everyone is different, people on the autism spectrum may:
    o be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely difficult
    o find social situations and change a challenge, sometimes leading to extreme levels of anxiety 
    o experience a ‘meltdown’ if overwhelmed by anxiety or sensory overload
    o benefit from extra time to process and respond to communication.
  • Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.