The National Autistic Society

  • The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for autistic people.
  • We are here to transform lives, change attitudes and create a society that works for autistic people.
  • Since 1962, we have been campaigning for autistic people’s rights and providing support and advice to autistic people and their families.
  • To find out more about autism or the charity, visit www.autism.org.uk.
  • Follow the National Autistic Society on Twitter @Autism or Facebook.

What is autism?

  • Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.
  • There are approximately 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.
  • All autistic people have difficulties with communication and social interaction.
  • Autism is a spectrum condition. This means autistic people have their own strengths and varying and complex needs, from 24-hour care to simply needing clearer communication and a little longer to do things at work and school.
  • Although everyone is different, people on the autism spectrum may:
    • Be under or oversensitive to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours, which can make everyday life extremely difficult
    • be unable to or find it harder to speak, need longer to process information or find it hard to hold conversations
    • experience intense anxiety around unexpected change and in social situations
    • become so overwhelmed that they experience debilitating physical and emotional ‘meltdowns’ or ‘shutdowns’.
  • Without the right support or understanding, autistic people can miss out on an education, struggle to find work and become extremely isolated.