What is Autism

Autism is a lifeling condition which affects how a person communicates and relates to other people. Autism can be characterised by difficulty in social communication, difficulty in social interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours and interests.

Practitioners often describe autism in terms of levels of severity (i.e. from level 1 to level 3), this was introduced in 2013 on a medical text known as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (or DSM-5).

For parent and carers, autism presents differently between individuals and can be better presented in the context of neurodiversity. This is because there can be many pitfalls when using rigid labels or narrowing down autistic traits or behaviours.

In Australia, the latest available ABS data from 2018 shows that:

  • There were 205,200 Australians with autism, a 25.1% increase from the 164,000 with the condition in 2015.
  • Males were 3.5 times more likely than females to have (been diagnosed with) the condition, with prevalence rates of 1.3% and 0.4% respectively.
  • Of the 106,600 young people (aged 5 to 20 years) with autism who were attending school, 77.7% reported experiencing difficulty at their place of learning. The main problems encountered were fitting in socially (59.8%), learning difficulties (55.3%) and communication difficulties (51.5%).