Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental condition that can be identified from early
childhood onwards and can affect a person throughout their life. The cause is unknown, and there’s no specific medical or genetic test to diagnose it. Instead, diagnosis is based on the presence of: particular patterns of social communication and interaction, restricted interests, and rigid routines, repetitive behaviour (e.g., lining up objects) or repetitive speech.
The diagnosis of ASD has replaced three diagnoses that were previously used: autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental disorder – not otherwise specified. These disorders no longer exist as separate diagnoses. Instead, they are reflected in the autism spectrum by specifying whether a person has mild, moderate or severe symptoms and difficulties.
With early intervention and support, young people with ASD can begin to understand how their experience of the world is different from others, and can begin to make sense of what supports
they might need to live the kind of life that they want.