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Autism may also be called ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder) or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). You can’t tell that someone has ASC just by looking at them. Autism lasts for all of a person’s life but they can still do a lot of things and learn a lot of skills.


What is it like for siblings if their brother or sister has autism?

Siblings often have a really good relationship with their brother or sister with ASC. However, they may sometimes feel that everything is about putting their brother or sisters’ needs first. It may be hard to go on days out or to do things that other families do. Even though siblings understand that their brother or sister need lots of extra attention and help sometimes, they can feel left out or jealous of the extra time which their parents spend with them. They may feel that they have to look after their brother or sister all the time.

What causes autism?

Nobody knows why people have ASC. People are born with it, though it may not be noticed while they are very young.  You cannot catch it like a cold or flu.

What does it mean?

If someone has ASC, their brain works differently. They may not understand what is happening, or why. They sometimes find it hard to be around other people or they may react differently to what is going on around them.

People with ASC may be affected in five main ways.

  1. They may find talking and listening much more difficult. They may find it hard to link words with their meanings and because of this they may find it difficult to understand what other people say. They may not be able to speak, or when they do speak, they find it hard to say what they mean. They may copy what people say, or only talk about their favourite subject and they may ask the same question lots of times.
  2. They may find it difficult to use their imagination.  This may mean they can’t join in ‘make-believe’ games. They may like doing the same things at the same times every day and get very upset when these routines are broken. They may like to have things always in the same place. Your brother or sister may also have lots of things they are good at.  They might be good at concentrating on one activity at a time or have interesting hobbies or topics they know lots about.  
  3. They may struggle to learn social skills. They may find making friends and getting on with people more difficult. They may find it difficult to join in with groups and to make new friends or find it hard to understand what other people are thinking or feeling. They often do not understand body language.  They may not always realise that a smile means you are pleased, or a hug means you like them.
  4. They may not understand how to behave, when to be quiet, when to wear clothes, what things are private. They find it very hard when there are lots of people around or lots of things happening at the same time.
  5. Some people with autism are also affected through their senses.  Their hearing may be very sensitive and they may not like loud noises.  They may have a very strong sense of taste and be a bit limited in the food choices which they make.  They may also dislike being touched or hugged. Some people with autism may also have epilepsy. Some people with autism may also have difficult behaviour.

What treatment is there?

There is no cure for autism but people who have it can have happy and enjoyable lives even if they need some extra help.

This information has been approved by The National Autistic Society, March 2013