Autism | Diagnosis, daily life and communication

Man with autism in office

Autism also known as ‘Autism Spectrum Disorder’ is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way people see, hear and relate to the world. Being autistic doesn’t mean that you have an illness or disease; it means your brain works differently to other people and it can influence how a person interacts with others. In this blog we look at understanding autism and communication techniques.

Living with autism

Everyone who has autism is unique, there is no one size fits all description. Some people need more support than others. This video from The National Autistic Society provides a quick overview of how living with autism may impact an individual’s daily life:

People living with autism can find it hard to make friends and meet new people, they may find it hard to communicate how they feel or what they need and may feel like people don’t understand them.

Like any individual, someone living with autism may have a passion for music, cooking, or art etc. It is common for an autistic person to thrive off a routine and they may like to do the same things every day to help them feel safe. Change can be tough for someone with autism, and this can leave them feeling anxious and scared. Finding the correct level of support is vital and that journey starts with diagnosis.


It can be quite hard to receive a diagnosis of autism especially as an adult, but it is more common than you might think, there are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum  in the UK – that’s more than 1 in 100.

Autism is usually diagnosed by a multi-disciplinary diagnostic team consisting of a pediatrician, language therapist and a psychologist. There is no known cause for autism, it is something that you are born with and it is important that autism is diagnosed as soon as possible so that the individual receives the right support. As we now have a greater understanding of the condition it is usually diagnosed during childhood, but this isn’t always the case. Here is more information on how to get diagnosed as an adult or as a child.

Autism is often diagnosed alongside other conditions such as learning disabilities and difficulties, mental health diagnosis, hearing impairment and other conditions. To read more about the conditions an autistic person may have click here.

If you think you or someone you know may have autism, please call your GP surgery to arrange an appointment. Your GP will be able to advise and refer you to the correct team for diagnosis. The right support, whatever level that may be, can make a huge difference to an individual’s quality of life and help those around them to learn new ways of communicating and adapting environments.

Autism and communication

People living with autism can find it hard to process what another person says and will sometimes repeat it to make sure that it is right. They have difficulties interpreting verbal and nonverbal communication. Facial expressions, sarcasm, tone of voice and gestures are not that easy to read if you have autism.

Some people who are autistic may not speak at all, speak very little or use sign language or pictures to communicate.

Tips for communicating with someone who has autism

  • Be patient when communicating and accept that there are different methods of communication.
  • Do not underestimate the individual’s abilities.
  • Give clear information and enough time for an individual to process and understand what someone has said.
  • Do not react and try to understand when someone with autism comes across frank, sometimes a little bit of guidance is needed to help them find a better expression.

It is important to remember that you can’t always tell if someone is autistic and people living with autism differ significantly in their support needs. Some people are able to live independently, but others may need support with daily living or 24 hour specialist support. You can find out more about how to access community care for adults living with autism by visiting The National Autistic Society website or to find out how Northern Healthcare support people living with autism click here.

Further reading:

Living with autism | Understanding sensory overloads

Autism and communication tools



Photo by Bethany Legg on Unsplash

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