This means that people with Autism experience differences in the way they communicate and interact socially, and their behaviour may be repetitive or highly focussed (the term ‘restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour’ is often used to describe this). People with Autism also tend to experience differences with their senses that can affect the way they feel about and respond to their surroundings. Autism is not a disease or illness.
Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ‘Spectrum’ refers to the wide range of characteristics, skills and abilities that different people with Autism have. No two people are affected by Autism in exactly the same way. Every person experiences Autism differently and has different support needs. Although the core characteristics of Autism can cause a range of challenges, it is important to recognise that they can also result in unique skills and capabilities.
While Autism is a life-long condition, with appropriate and tailored support, children and Adults with Autism can make significant progress and live fulfilling lives. Consequently, it is imperative that people with Autism have access to specialist services that understand their needs and are experienced in developing their skills and strengths.
How many people have Autism in Australia?
Until recently it has generally been accepted that about 1 in 100 Australians have Autism. With a broadening of Autism criteria in recent years, and advances in identifying Autism, it is now considered to be closer to 1 in 70.
In 2018 there were 205,200 Australians with Autism, a 25.1% increase from the 164,000 in 2015 (Source: ABS SDAC 2018– Autism in Australia).
This means that if you have Autism you are not alone. And, if you do not have Autism yourself it is likely that you will meet or have already met someone who does.
Currently, males are 3.5 times more likely to have Autism than females (Source: ABS SDAC 2018 – Autism in Australia).
The increase in prevalence rates does not necessarily mean that Autism is on the rise. Rather, it is likely that increased Autism awareness and understanding, with resultant changes to the diagnostic criteria, has led to better identification of Autism characteristics.
Find out more
The following pages will provide more useful information about Autism.