Autism is thought to affect around 1% of individuals, though in reality, many cases of autism go undiagnosed and the true percentage may be higher.
People who have autism have difficulties in three main areas, commonly referred to as the ‘triad’ of impairments – social interaction, imagination and communication. Common difficulties include preference for routines, problems maintaining conversation and difficulties recognising other people’s feelings.
Descriptions and classifications of autism change as more is learnt about the condition. It is often regarded as being on a ‘spectrum’, with varying degrees of severity. Some people with autism have no speech and others can use very complex speech. Some people have learning disabilities and others have above average intelligence. Many people with autism also have sensory difficulties but all have some degree of difficulty in each of the three areas of the ‘triad’ outlined above.
Autism cannot currently be assessed by a physical examination or genetic test and the causes are not fully understood. The presence of autism should be assessed by trained and experienced clinicians from more than one professional discipline, who should focus not only on the accepted triad of impairments, but also on how these impairments affect aspects of the person’s daily life and relationships with other people.
The most comprehensive assessment of autism should take into account observation, clinical interview, gathering developmental history and use of specific diagnostic tools including the Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Disorders (DISCO) and the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS II).
At Spectrum North West we pride ourselves in offering a comprehensive and robust assessment process for the diagnosis of autism, and we are delighted that our clients recommend us to others.