Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is an umbrella term that covers everyone with conditions within the spectrum of autism. ASD is a condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
People with an ASD are likely to have difficulty in understanding the communication and language of others and also in communicating themselves. Many people with ASD are delayed in learning to speak and some do not develop speech.
People with an ASD have difficulty in understanding the social behaviour of others and can behave in socially inappropriate ways. People with ASDs are very literal in how they think and how they interpret language and social context.
People with an ASD tend to have special interests in particular topics or activities, which they may pursue obsessively.
Some people with ASDs are either very sensitive or very insensitive to certain sounds, sights, tastes, smells and textures. This can affect their responses to things like clothes, food or noise.
The main features of ASDs usually start in childhood, although the impact of these may not be apparent until adolescence or even adulthood.