2.1 Main characteristics
The current framework for diagnosing autism identifies two main groups of characteristics. The first concerns
The second group of characteristics is ‘non-social’: autistic people tend to have narrow or unusual interests, such as acquiring lots of information about just one type of dinosaur. They often repeat the same activity, ranging from constantly rocking backwards and forwards or flicking the fingers, to always eating the same foods, or repeatedly watching the same video. These traits are collectively known as
While diagnosis is based on these social and non-social difficulties, many autistic people also have enhanced skills such as good attention to and memory for detail, or natural ability with numbers or IT. A very small proportion of individuals on the spectrum have outstanding talents in fields including art and music.
While social, language and sensory challenges may mean that an autistic person finds it hard to function in a mainstream school or workplace environment, with the right support they can flourish. Employers are beginning to realise the benefit to the workplace of attributes often associated with autism, such as mathematical and IT skills, persistence and attention to detail.