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What is it

Autism isn’t an illness or a mental health condition. It’s a developmental condition that affects how people experience the world and interact with others. You might hear people using different words for autism, like ‘autism spectrum condition’, ‘autism spectrum disorder’, or ‘ASD’.

Autism is called a spectrum condition because it affects different people in different ways. Autistic people experience difficulties with social communication and social interaction. They may behave in repetitive ways (for example, liking routines or finding change difficult). Autistic people might also have over- or under-sensitive senses (including sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch) and highly focused interests and hobbies. Some autistic people experience meltdowns (when they get overwhelmed and lose control of their behaviour) and shutdowns (when they get overwhelmed and go quiet or ‘switch off’).
Autistic people can often have good mental health, but autistic people often experience mental health problems too. For example, autistic people might experience anxiety, depression, or OCD.

Feelings and behaviours

  • Finding it difficult to recognise or understand other people’s emotions
  • Finding it difficult to express your own feelings
  • Preferring familiar routines
  • Finding unexpected changes to routines challenging or upsetting
  • Having focused and specific interests in certain things
  • Finding it difficult to read body language
  • Finding it difficult to understand sarcasm and changes in others’ facial expressions

Physical signs

  • Being more or less sensitive to light, sound, or touch (for example, finding background noise difficult or liking strong tastes)

What’s going on

Interviews, art, blogs, and tips about mental health and wellbeing.

How to start a conversation about mental health

How to start a conversation about mental health

It can be difficult to know how to start a conversation about mental health. Here are some tips and conversation starters.

Get support for how you’re feeling

Flipbox - Mental health services

Get mental health support for young people

Information about mental health services (including CAMHS) if you’re a young person in Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hillingdon, Hounslow, Kensington and Chelsea, or Westminster.

Find out more

Flipbox - Digital Mental Health

Digital mental health support for young people across the UK

Information about apps, websites, and other digital tools that exist to support you with your mental health and wellbeing.

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