New to diagnosis

A new diagnosis of autism

Autism is a condition that affects about 1 in every 100 children, or more than 200,000 Australians. While more people in the community are starting to become familiar of the autism spectrum, or may know someone on the spectrum, receiving a diagnosis often means that parents have many questions and need information about how to get started in helping their child.

What is autism?

Autism, is a condition that begins at birth or shortly afterwards. Autism affects how a person learns and how they interact with other people and their surroundings. The impact of autism on how the person copes, learns and functions throughout their lives varies with age and intervention.

There are two areas that are affected by autism. These are seen as:

  • Differences in social and communication development. This can include differences in the way eye contact is used, difficulties with developing language, difficulties in developing relationships with other people and challenges understanding and responding to other people’s thoughts and feelings.
  • Narrow interests and repetitive behaviour. This might include repetitive movements like flapping or jumping, strong interests in unusual topics, repetitive speech (called echolalia) and the need to create and/or follow routines.

No two people on the autism spectrum are alike, which is why we talk about a spectrum. People on the autism spectrum have a range of behaviours, social understanding and communication skills. Some children on the spectrum also have a developmental disability or an intellectual disability which will impact on their skills and learning. Autism is seen in all cultures and economic groups.

The following links provide more information about autism:

What is autism?

Information for school about autism and my child fact sheet

Parents, carers and other family members might be interested in learning more about autism through the Positive Partnerships online learning modules.