What is ASD?

ASD is a lifelong developmental disability which affects the way a person communicates and interacts with others.  It is estimated that 520,000 people in the UK have ASD. More than 1 in every 100 people have ASD, within Liverpool there are currently 67,169 children of school age. 1% of this population would mean 672 children will be affected by ASD.  This figure does not include children who are not of school age.After 50 years of research there is still no agreed explanation for ASD. There does appear to be genetic involvement.  ASD affects a higher proportion of boys than girls, 4:1 autism, 9:1 Aspergers.


Children with ASD will have difficulties in three specific areas:

  • Social Interaction
  • Flexibility of thought or impaired imagination
  • Social Communication


This is known as the ‘Triad of Impairments’  Possible difficulties in each of these areas may include:

Social Interaction

  • Appear to be in their own world
  • Not like or respond to physical affection
  • Not show or appear to recognize emotion
  • Use another’s hand to get things
  • Appear to ignore or doesn’t respond to their own name
  • Avoid eye contact or have impaired eye contact
  • Prefer to be alone and not join in with other children
  • Not appear to understand what others are thinking or feeling
  • Have no sense of danger



Flexibility of Thought

  • Not use toys appropriately but will use them repetively such as lining them up.
  • Repeat words or phrases over and over which are copied from DVD’s or TV programmes.
  • Have difficulties with imaginative play.

Social Communication

  • Difficulties, little or no speech
  • Difficulties, little or no understanding of speech
  • Difficulties in understanding facial expressions, gestures or body movement.
  • Difficulties interpreting social cues.

Sensory Difficulties

A child with ASD may under or over react to sensory stimuli from one or more of the seven senses.

  • Sight
  • Hearing
  • Touch
  • Smell
  • Taste
  • Balance (vestibular)
  • Body Awareness (Proprioception)



Children with ASD may also exhibit repetitive behaviours and be resistant to change. They may struggle with transitions from one activity to another or even from one room to another.  A child with ASD may demand a strict routine in order to reduce their anxiety and stress.  The child may develop obsessive behaviours to cope with anxiety and stress.  Some of these behaviours may include:

  • Hand flapping, spinning or tapping.
  • Twisting or turning objects directly in front of the eyes and looking at them from different angles – Sighting
  • Have the need to follow repetitive routines
  • Obsession interests such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Disney Princesses.
  • Obsessively talk about a specific interest and may collect facts and information about it.



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