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Understanding Autism

Autism is not me. Autism is just an information processing problem that controls who I am. Donna Williams, Author of ‘Nobody, Nowhere’ and ‘Somebody, Somewhere’

E&I Understand Autism

Understanding Autism

Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that affects the development of the brain in areas of social interaction and communication and is marked by severe difficulties in communicating and forming relationships with people, in developing language and in using abstract concepts. Characteristics include repetitive and limited patterns of behaviour and obsessive resistance to tiny changes in familiar surroundings or routines.

The 3 main areas of difficulty for people with autism are referred to as the ‘triad of impairments’.

➜ Social communication

➜ Social interaction

➜ Social imagination.

Although not included in the triad of impairments, there is a fourth area which has been identified as presenting people with autism with significant difficulties and that is the area of sensory processing. Sensory processing difficulties are indicated by either a hyper or hypo-sensitivity across any or all of the 5 senses.

Social communication

Due to some people on the autism spectrum having difficulties using or understanding facial expressions, tone of voice, sarcasm and irony, it is important that we as coaches and activity leaders try to make communications as clear as possible.

Social interaction

Some people on the autism spectrum may prefer to spend time alone and not seek comfort or company of others. They may not understand unwritten social rules which most of us pick up without thinking. For example they may stand too close to another person or start an inappropriate subject of conversation. They may also appear to be insensitive because they have not recognised how someone else is feeling.

Restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests

These differences may mean that people on the autism spectrum may find it hard to understand and interpret other’s thoughts, feeling and actions; to understand the concept of danger or predict what will happen next or could happen next; prepare for change and plan for the future; or cope in new or unfamiliar situations.

Knowing what causes challenging behaviour can help you to develop ways of dealing with it. You’ll find practical information and tips in the – Equality & Inclusion in Sport and Physical Activity or for more information on Autism please visit National Autistic Society website.

Please also check out:

Team United Sports is a charity that works to support young people with disabilities overcome social barriers they often face when taking part in sport and physical activity, particularly team sports. We focus on supporting young people aged 10-16 years with Autism but not exclusively.



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