The World Health Organization (WHO) recently updated its fact sheet on autism.
Autism spectrum disorders (ASD) are a diverse group of conditions. They are characterized by some degree of difficulty with social interaction and communication. Other characteristics are atypical patterns of activities and behaviours, such as difficulty with transition from one activity to another, a focus on details and unusual reactions to sensations.
The abilities and needs of autistic people vary and can evolve over time. While some people with autism can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support. Autism often has an impact on education and employment opportunities. In addition, the demands on families providing care and support can be significant.
Characteristics of autism may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later.
People with autism often have co-occurring conditions, including epilepsy, depression, anxiety and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder as well as challenging behaviours such as difficulty sleeping and self-injury.
The level of intellectual functioning among autistic people varies widely, extending from profound impairment to superior levels.
Autism – also referred to as autism spectrum disorder ̶ constitutes a diverse group of conditions related to development of the brain.
About 1 in 100 children has autism.
Characteristics may be detected in early childhood, but autism is often not diagnosed until much later.
Available epidemiological data conclude that there is no evidence of a causal association between measles, mumps and rubella vaccine, and autism. Previous studies suggesting a causal link were found to be filled with methodological flaws.
There is also no evidence to suggest that any other childhood vaccine may increase the risk of autism. Evidence reviews of the potential association between the preservative thiomersal and aluminium adjuvants contained in inactivated vaccines and the risk of autism strongly concluded that vaccines do not increase the risk of autism.
The abilities and needs of autistic people vary and can evolve over time. While some people with autism can live independently, others have severe disabilities and require life-long care and support.
All people, including people with autism, have the right to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
And yet, autistic people are often subject to stigma and discrimination, including unjust deprivation of health care, education and opportunities to engage and participate in their communities.
People with autism have the same health problems as the general population. However, they may, in addition, have specific health-care needs related to autism or other co-occurring conditions. They may be more vulnerable to developing chronic noncommunicable conditions because of behavioural risk factors such as physical inactivity and poor dietary preferences, and are at greater risk of violence, injury and abuse.
Evidence-based psychosocial interventions can improve communication and social skills, with a positive impact on the well-being and quality of life of both autistic people and their caregivers.
Care for people with autism needs to be accompanied by actions at community and societal levels for greater accessibility, inclusivity and support.
Link to the updated fact sheet:
Link to a related video:
Link to WHO’s training for caregivers of children with developmental disabilities including autism: