The autism spectrum
is a range of neurodevelopmental
conditions generally characterised by difficulties in social interactions and communication, repetitive behaviors, intense interests, and unusual responses to sensory stimuli.
It is commonly referred to as autism or, in the context of a professional diagnosis, as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), but the latter term remains controversial among neurodiversity advocates, neurodiversity researchers, and many autistic people due to the use of the word disorder and due to questions about its utility outside of diagnostic contexts.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that affects people’s behaviour. People with ADHD can seem restless, may have trouble concentrating and may act on impulse.
Symptoms of ADHD tend to be noticed at an early age and may become more noticeable when a child’s circumstances change, such as when they start school.
Most cases are diagnosed when children are 3 to 7 years old, but sometimes it’s diagnosed later in childhood. Sometimes ADHD was not recognised when someone was a child, and they are diagnosed later as an adult.
The symptoms of ADHD usually improve with age, but many adults who were diagnosed with the condition at a young age continue to experience problems.
Dyspraxia, also known as developmental co-ordination disorder (DCD), is a common disorder that affects movement and co-ordination.
Dyspraxia can affect your co-ordination skills – such as tasks requiring balance, playing sports or learning to drive a car. Dyspraxia can also affect your fine motor skills, such as writing or using small objects.
Dyslexia is a common learning difficulty that mainly causes problems with reading, writing and spelling. It’s a specific learning difficulty, which means it causes problems with certain abilities used for learning, such as reading and writing.
It’s estimated up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK has some degree of dyslexia.
Dyslexia is lifelong and can present challenges on a daily basis, but support is available to improve reading and writing skills at school and work.
Dyscalculia is the name given to difficulty in learning about, comprehending or using numbers.
Such people will have difficulty in undertaking mathematical calculations such as adding, subtracting, multiplying and dividing, and can often find they also have difficulty understanding money, time, distances, directions and so on.
Illegible handwriting is a common sign of dysgraphia, but not everyone with messy penmanship has the disorder. It’s also possible to have neat handwriting if you have dysgraphia, though it may take you a long time and a lot of effort to write neatly.
Some common characteristics of dysgraphia include:
- incorrect spelling and capitalisation
- mix of cursive and print letters
- inappropriate sizing and spacing of letters
Irlen Syndrome is a neurologic condition resulting in an over-active or over-stimulated brain. This extra brain activity affects lots of different areas of functioning including:
- Academic and work performance
- Ability to sit still
This condition is often a lifetime barrier to learning and performance.
Hyperlexia is a syndrome, which affects with speech, language and social interaction. It may be accompanied by “different” behaviours. Children exhibit an intense fascination with letters, numbers, patterns, and logos, and a very precocious ability to read, spell, write and/or compute usually before the age of five. Hyperlexia is observed in children who demonstrate the following cluster of characteristics:
- A precocious, self-taught ability to read words which appears before age 5, and/or an intense fascination with letters, numbers, logos, maps or visual patterns.
- Significant difficulty in understanding and developing oral language (i.e. language is first delayed, then “different” once it emerges).
- “Unusual” or “different” social skills; difficulty interacting appropriately with peers and adults.