About autism

Young boy stares into the distance

Characteristics of autism

Autism is a developmental condition that affects the way a person communicates and interacts with other people and his or her environment. The differences seen in people on the autism spectrum include social communication difficulties, strong interests and repetitive behaviour. People on the autism spectrum can also have an intellectual disability and/or language disorders. These differences and difficulties vary from one person to another: some young people on the autism spectrum require a great deal of support across all areas, while others will require a lower level of focused support to cope in everyday settings.

Research suggests around one in 100 Australians are on the autism spectrum. It is diagnosed more in boys than girls. The impacts of autism can often be minimised by early diagnosis and, with appropriate intervention, many people on the autism spectrum show marked improvements across their school years and into adulthood.

This section contains information about the main characteristics of autism as well as how autism can impact on individuals. There is information about a range of interventions and tools that can be used by parents, teachers and others involved in supporting young people on the spectrum. See the full list of topics in the menu on the left.