Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that can affect how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.  People with autism may also be more sensitive to everyday sensory information. To people with autism the world can appear chaotic with no clear boundaries, order or meaning.

Children and young adults with autism see, hear and feel the world differently to other people.

Click here to watch the NAS ‘What is Autism’ video.

Specific nerve cells in the brain, called neurones, act differently in people with autism. Mirror neurones help us mirror useful behaviour so we can learn implicitly from others.

Brain imaging studies suggest that the mirror neurones in people with autism respond in a different way. This could partly explain what many behavioural studies have already shown – that children with autism can find it difficult to copy or learn simple behaviours from others. Scientists have suggested with social interaction could have a knock-on effect on language learning.

All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop but often need to be explicitly taught skills their typically developing peers learn implicitly. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.


To find out more about our sensory system click here.