What is Autism?

Autism is not an illness

Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.

It’s something you’re born with. Signs of autism might be noticed when you’re very young, or not until you’re older.

If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life.

Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.

What causes Autism?

Evidence suggests that autism may be genetic. Scientists have been attempting to identify which genes might be implicated in autism for some years. Autism is likely to have multiple genes responsible rather than a single gene. However, it is not caused by emotional deprivation or the way a person has been brought up.

How is Autism diagnosed?

There is no physical test to diagnose autism spectrum disorder (ASD) which can often make diagnosing the condition difficult. For a diagnosis of ASD to be made, a doctor will take a look at a person’s medical and developmental history.

ASD can be detected in children as young as 18 months old and, in some cases, even younger. However, it might take a little more time to make a definite diagnosis. In many autistic children, the condition might go undetected until they are teenagers or adults.

What is the treatment for autism?

There is no one standard treatment for Autism, however, appropriate specialist education, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy and behavioural management strategies all play an important role in supporting individuals with Autism.


What is the life expectancy of someone with Autism?

Individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have a shorter life expectancy than people in the general population, and a new study suggests that lifestyle issues play a large role in shortening their lifespans.

Premature deaths among autistic people are at “shocking levels” according to a charity report which found that certain groups with the condition die 30 years younger than the general population.

The striking figures amount to a “hidden crisis” in public health according to the charity, Autistica, which has called on the NHS to launch an immediate review into the scale and underlying causes of autism deaths in Britain.

The organisation’s report draws on published studies that reveal high rates of suicide among autistic people, with women at greatest risk of taking their own lives. Autistic people with no learning disabilities are nine times more likely to die from suicide compared to the rest of the population, the report states.

Autism and Smoking

Scientists have identified a relationship between two proteins in the brain that has links to both nicotine addiction and autism. The finding has led to speculation that existing drugs used to curb nicotine addiction might serve as the basis for potential therapies to alleviate the symptoms of autism.

Research has shown that people with autism have a shortage of these nicotinic receptors in their brains. Meanwhile, scientists also know that people who are addicted to nicotine have too many of these receptors in their brains.

Switching from cigarettes to e-cigarettes would be beneficial for their health while getting the nicotine they crave reducing harm from tobacco smoke.

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