What is Autism?


Autism (sometimes referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder or ASD/Autism Spectrum Condition or ASC) is a development disorder affecting social, communication and imagination skills.  Children with autism share a common difficulty in making sense of the world.  The degree to which people with autism are affected varies, but the following are common characteristics:

  • Difficulty with social relationships
  • Difficulty with verbal communication
  • Difficulty with non-verbal communication
  • Difficulty in the development of play and imagination
  • Resistance to change in routine


Asperger’s syndrome is a form of autism, a disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to others. Some people call Asperger’s High-Functioning Autism’. Doctors do not usually diagnose people with Asperger’s or High-Functioning Autism anymore; the diagnosis will be Autism Spectrum Disorder or Autism Spectrum Condition. 

A number of the traits of autism are common to Asperger’s syndrome including:

  • Difficulty in communicating
  • Difficulty social relationships
  • A lack of imagination and creative play

However, people with Asperger’s syndrome usually have fewer problems with language than those with autism, often speaking fluently though their words can sometimes sound formal or stilted.

People with Asperger’s syndrome also do not have the accompanying learning disabilities often associated with autism; in fact, people with Asperger’s syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence.

The key characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome are:

  • Difficulty with social relationships
  • Difficulty with communication
  • Lack of imagination
  • Special interests
  • Love of routines

Pathological Demand Avoidance

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is not yet fully understood but is widely understood to be a profile on the autistic spectrum, according to the PDA Society. As well as sharing many characteristics with the other autism diagnoses, PDA has its own extra traits. People with PDA tend to not respond very well to traditional parenting techniques and even some autism techniques can backfire or be ineffective.

People with PDA will display these things:

  • Be highly avoidant of everyday demands, even if they are activities that the person likes
  • A need to have a high level of control over things
  • Use creative, social ways to escape demands

Most people will not currently receive a diagnosis of PDA but they may receive one of autism with demand-avoidance characteristics.