About Autism What is Autism? What is Autism? Autism is the word used to describe a lifelong difference in a person’s neurology. It’s very difficult to say exactly what ‘it’ is because it can’t be separated from the person. Edinburgh university describe it as: "A way of being in the world; it’s a way of processing the things that come into your body (sights and sounds and so on). It affects how you perceive and interact with people. There will also be differences in how you plan and manage activities, and organising that information can translate into different behaviour." In essence, an autistic person will see, process and understand the world in a different way from someone who isn’t autistic, for all of their life. Commonly cited research suggests 1.1% of the population will be autistic. In our experience, serving autistic people and their families for 40 years, and from new research trends and beliefs, we estimate this to be much higher. Statistics also don’t account for the numbers of people who are undiagnosed, waiting to be diagnosed or who have a wrong diagnosis. Neither have they been updated to reflect changing knowledge around the ratios of females to be diagnosed. Historically the focus on autism has been through the language of ‘impairments’ and deficits, instead of differences or even skills and abilities. We at the North East Autism Society have had to change the way we think and as a result, the work that we do, with most of this stemming from listening to and working with autistic people, who have been the voices consistently missing from the autism narrative. Without denying challenge, our aim has been to help the wider world shift to understand and accept those of us who are autistic. Visit our Family Resources site for more useful information.