What is Autism?

Autism is a spectrum condition, with a wide range of known characteristics although how Autism affects a person is entirely individual to their own personality. Autism can affect how people understand and interact with the world around them.

Leo Kanner, an American Psychiatrist, first documented the characteristics of Autism in 1943, and in 1944, Hans Asperger, an Austrian psychiatrist, first documented the characteristics of Asperger syndrome.

The word Autism comes from the Greek word ‘Autos’ which means ‘self’, linking to the characteristic that people with Autism may find interaction and understanding of others challenging, although this is a generalisation, and the effects of Autism are different for each person.

What causes Autism?

The causes of Autism are still unknown although research suggests there could be genetic links, and between 44% and 52% of people with Autism may have a learning disability (having an IQ of less than 70) but not all people with Autism will. Around 30% of people with Autism also have a diagnosis of epilepsy although the exact reason for this link is still unclear.

In 1979, psychiatrist Lorna Wing and Psychologist Judith Gould examined the characteristics of people effected by Autism Spectrum Conditions and identified a link in three main areas, challenged with communication, interaction and imagination, which became known as the Triad of Impairments. Judith Gould is now the Director of the NAS Lorna Wing Centre for Autism

Can people with Autism work?

Defiantly people with Autism can work and want to work. According to research carried out by the National Autistic Society (NAS), only 15% of people with Autism are in full time, paid employment, despite over 60% of people saying that they want to work full time.

People suggest barriers to employment include a lack of awareness of Autism, the effects of benefits and overpowering challenges in the workplace, in which people find it difficult to express the need for help or support in their task. On 22nd May 2013, the BBC reported that German software company SAP aimed to recruit hundreds of people with autism, saying they have a unique talent for information technology. SAP said that ‘by 2020, 1% of its global workforce of 65,000 employees would be people with autism’. 

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