What is Autism?

Understanding Autism.

AUTISM – otherwise known as  Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC) or Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) or Asperger’s Syndrome (a term that is no longer in the current diagnostic manual and less often used these days) – is considered a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition. With the right kind of support, autistic and neurodiverse often lead successful and fulfilling lives. However, there are specific areas of their lives where they experience genuine barriers or differences:

The Core Features of Autism
Communicating with other people
Many autistic individuals experiences differences or difficulties in verbally expressing their ideas or experiences, and understanding other people, despite having normal/superior intelligence and good language skills.
Managing social interactions and situations
Autistic individuals often report feeling 'uncomfortable' or 'confused' when socialising with other people. They have to try very hard to keep up with conversations. Often, many autistic people may end up avoiding social situations.
Developing or maintaining relationships
Autistic individuals often report challenges accessing or keeping different types of relationships, regardless of their keenness or motivation for connecting with other people. Some describe having different approaches to relationships and social situations. At the same time, many are able to form meaningful long-term relationships.
Sensory sensitivites
Many autistic individuals are hypo- (under) or hyper- (over) sensitive to sound, light, touch, taste and smell.
Preference for structure, repetition and routines
Autistic individuals often prefer routines and structures to manage their lives. Many find disruptions to their routines or unexpected changes distressing.
All-absorbing intense interests
Some people with autism have intense interests in certain areas, and dedicate a lot of their energy and time to pursue these interests.
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Our understanding of Autism has evolved....

Our understanding of autism has changed a great deal since the diagnosis came out 70 years ago. 

For instance, we know that many ‘high-achieving’ and socially-motivated individuals are very good at ‘masking‘ or ‘camouflaging‘ their autistic traits. This is common amongst autistic women and – from our experiences – men with good verbal skills.

More and more often, autism is understood as a neurodivergent condition or a neurodiversity to be celebrated and embraced, rather than a disability.


We have encountered many autistic individuals who have attained higher education degrees, achieved successful careers in their fields of specialty, and started their own families. Often, they have developed various coping strategies to deal with social demands.

For many, they may still continue to experience ‘social fatigue’ and daily challenges that appear ‘incongruent’ with their abilities and experiences. This often prompt a request for a formal assessment or a seek for professional help.

If you experience the above traits...

If the above description of the traits and preferences of autistic people fit with your own experiences, it is often useful to explore an autism assessment. Click on the button below to find out more about having a private autism assessment at the Marylebone Autism Psychology Practice (MAPP). We are able to see you in our clinic near Harley Street in London or remotely via video call.

Marylebone Autism Psychology Practice (MAPP) 2022

85 Wimpole Street, Marylebone, W1G 9RJ