Black, grey and red letters scattered on a white background spelling out the word "Autism".
Autism is a difference in some people’s brains which makes them see the world a little differently.

What is autism?

Autism is a disability in development which affects how a person communicates with and relates to people around them.

Children and adults with autism can have difficulties with social interaction. 

This means they can communicate with, interact with and understand other people and the world around them differently to people who do not have autism.

Sensory issues

We are all unique with our own abilities and things we find difficult. This is true for people with autism too and each child’s experience of autism is different.

Some children with autism may experience their senses differently, which might mean that noises can be too loud, smells can be too strong and certain clothes or fabrics can feel itchy and uncomfortable.

Parts of life like making friends, talking with other people or dealing with a change in plans, can be difficult for children and young people with autism. 

Children and young people with autism might have trouble finding the right words, or might copy other words which they have heard on TV shows or in movies to express themselves.

Children and young people with autism might also use their bodies to show how they are feeling – for example, by flapping their hands when they are happy or rocking their bodies when they are upset.

How can I help a friend or classmate who has autism?

We all want to feel safe and accepted in the world and children and young people with autism are no different. However, this can be difficult for them.
Here are some things you can do to help a friend or classmate with autism:

Use clear communication

Use clear communication when describing or explaining something. Your friend or classmate might not understand when people are being sarcastic or joking.

Be patient

Give your friend time to think about what you have said.

Don't judge, but try to understand

At times, the world can be a scary place for a young person with autism. This can cause them to feel anxious and sometimes to act in ways which might be difficult for other people to understand.

Tell your friend how you feel

It may be difficult for him or her to read facial expressions so he or she may not realise that you are annoyed, upset, happy, etc.

Ask your friend about their hobbies or interests

People with autism often have topics of interest and may have lots of knowledge about that topic and really enjoy talking about it.

Accept your friend for the unique person they are

People with autism, like all of us, have many hugely positive characteristics. Your friend and you can build a life-long friendship based on loyalty and trust.

Other supports available include:​

If you would like to read more about autism, one of the places you can find information is

These links will open a new window in your browser.

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