What is Autism

WHAT IS AUTISM (Autism Spectrum Disorders)?

Autism is a range of complex disorders which most notable are:

  • Severe communication difficulties
  • Difficulty in social relationships
  • Repetitive activities and routines
  • An obsessive narrow range of interest

Autism occurs more frequently in males: 4:1

The incidence of Autism is now believed to be at 1 in 100 Children. Recent studies reveal that ASDs are on the increase.

Autism can be suspected in the first year of life. Early diagnosis and intervention is essential.

Little is known about possible causative factors or conditions preceding or accompanying Autism.


  • Healthy, intelligent and attractive in appearance.
  • Speech difficulties.
  • Withdrawn, apathetic and unresponsive.
  • Disinterest in people and surroundings.
  • Unusual interest in inanimate objects.
  • Hyperactivity.
  • Sleeping difficulties.


  • Feeding Problems, such as poor sucking.
  • Apathetic and unresponsive – showing no desire to be held or cuddled.
  • Constant crying, or an unusual absence of crying.
  • Disinterest in people and surroundings.
  • Unusual fear of strangers
  • Repetitive movements, such as hand flapping, prolonged rocking and spinning.
  • Obsessive interest in certain toys or mechanical appliances.
  • Insistence on being left alone and that physical environment remain unchanged.
  • Sleeping problems.

18 Months to 2 Years:

  • Difficulties in toilet training.
  • Odd eating habits and preferences.
  • Late speech, no speech or loss of previously acquired speech.

After 2 Years:

  • Continued aphasics or unusual speech pattern, such as repeating word and phrases, failure to use “I” or “Yes”.


It is not surprising that children with such characteristics have many behavioural problems. Children with Autism may appear to be indifferent to their parents and unaware of the presence of others.

Since their world is so confusing, they try to cling to a few things which they do understand, such as keeping to the same routines and becoming attached to certain toys or objects. This can make life very difficult for the whole family, since the child may insist on everyone else fitting into his/her demands.

Children with Autism may be frightened of quite harmless things, and on the other hand, ignore real
dangers. They have less than normal understandings of social requirements and often behave inappropriately.

Due to lack of responsiveness, children with autism are sometimes mistakenly thought to be deaf.


There is increasing evidence that children with autism benefit, often dramatically, from special education suited to their needs. Yet even in areas where such education is mandatory, children with significant behaviour difficulties continue to be excluded from existing services.

Every Child with Autism is an individual and requires education that is appropriate to his level of ability or disability.

There are many interventions and methodologies that can benefit children with Autism. Each child is entitled to an education recommended by trained professionals and available as a right once the
approach is ethical and does not cause any pain, distress, anxiety and fear.

Some approaches used are PECS, TEACCH, ABA, Facilitated Communication, Auditory Training, Hannen, Options. There are many others and variations of the above.

The eclectic approach, the child centred approach is the preferred approach. Task Force Report 2001.

About Us

The Irish Society for Autism was created in 1963, and has long campaigned for the cause of Autism in Ireland and Worldwide. We are the longest established specialist service for people with Autism in Ireland. The Society was formed...
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Dublin 1, Ireland

Phone: +353 1 874 4684
Email: admin@autism.ie

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