Having autism does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people. Autism is something you're born with or first appears when you're very young.

We talk about autism as a spectrum condition, as while autistic people share similar characteristics, it affects everyone differently and autistic people may need varying levels of support.

There are different ways you can develop your understanding and celebrate differences and learn about others autistic experiences.

Learn more about autism by watching our short animation.

Autism Spectrum Condition is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. In the UK, there are around 700,000 autistic people. That’s just over one in every 100 people that has Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC).  Autistic people come from all nationalities, cultures, social backgrounds and religions.

Autism is often described as a ‘spectrum disorder’ because the condition affects people in many ways and to varying degrees.

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Autism as a spectrum

Not everyone with autism will find all of these things difficult. This is because Autism exists on a spectrum of severity, affecting people in many different ways and to varying degrees. Some people may need a lot of support in some areas; where as other people may find certain things really easy.

Autistic people may share any combination of traits but each person is unique, and so is their life, just like everyone else.

You may be affected in different areas in different ways (and at different times and in different situations!)

You cannot tell someone is autistic by looking at them and it is not an illness, it’s just that the autistic mind thinks and processes information differently.  

Some Autistic people might have differences in how they:

  • Explain to people how they feel and what they need
  • Form social connections with others
  • Understand jokes and sarcasm
  • Make and maintain eye contact
  • Cope with certain sounds, smells, lights, colours or touch
  • Cope with change and going to new places, this may make them feel really anxious
  • Understand what other people are thinking and feeling

 Autistic people may:   

  • Like to stick to the same routine
  • Have passions that they like to talk about and research it a lot
  • Have a certain way to complete tasks

There are several strengths and desirable characteristics associated with autism, such as an ability to focus for long periods of time, punctuality, honesty and attention to detail.

For more information please visit the National Autistic Society What is autism

The exact causes are still being investigated. However, research suggests that a combination of factors – genetic and environmental – may account for changes in brain development. It is not caused by a person’s upbringing, their social circumstances and is not the fault of the individual with the condition or their parents.

What about Asperger’s?

Asperger’s Syndrome is a type of autism, also sometimes referred to as ‘high functioning autism’.

Asperger’s Syndrome is no longer used as a diagnosis, instead, a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder is given. If you have already been diagnosed with Asperger’s, your diagnosis will not change, and you can use the term if you prefer.

Our team prefer to use the term Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) rather than Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), because we believe ‘disorder’ may portray the diagnosis in a negative way.

These are some of the pros and cons some Autistic adults have shared with us.  If you have any questions regarding this, please don’t hesitate to contact the service.


  • Being able to make sense of past difficulties
  • Increased access to support services
  • Additional help in educational settings, such as extra time or special conditions to help you focus on an exam
  • Legal obligation for employers to make reasonable adjustments at work to help you manage difficulties you may be facing.
  • Aids self acceptance and self identity
  • Gain an understanding of self
  • Validation of experiences through life
  • Others have a better understanding of your experiences.


  • You may be asked to provide a medical report from your GP which will hold details on the autism diagnosis.  This may have implications on/for/in relation to
    • Employment (eg. the military)
    • Visa applications (eg. migrating to some countries)
  • Unfortunately, some people still experience stigma, prejudice, and discrimination due to their diagnosis
  • Autistic people may also face additional barriers with accessing appropriate health services
  • If you feel autism impacts your ability to drive safely you will need to inform the DVLA.

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Mersey Care Autism Spectrum Condition Services work with adults over 18 years of age (17 years in Warrington).

To refer a child or young person for an ASC assessment, the details are below:

  • Halton: Woodview Child Development Centre 

  • Knowsley: Neurodevelopmental Pathway 

  • Liverpool and Sefton Alder Hey Children's Hospital Autism Spectrum Disorder Service 

  • St Helens: Neurodevelopmental Pathway 

  • Warrington: Bridgewater Community Health