Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Understanding autism
Understanding autism

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

2 What is autism?

This section gives an overview of key facts about autism. Read it through, and add to your notes again where necessary.

Autism [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]  is considered to be a lifelong, developmental condition that affects how a person thinks, communicates with and relates to other people, and interacts with the world around them.

Autism is much more common than was previously thought. About one per cent (or one in a hundred) of people in the UK are thought to be on the autism spectrum. You may know someone with autism, or be on the autism spectrum yourself.

The exact causes are still unknown, but there is good evidence that subtly atypical brain function may lie behind the differences in thinking and behaviour. It is also clear that autism is highly genetic. Scientific evidence suggests that multiple genes are involved, and different combinations of genes in different families or individuals.