Around 700,000 people in the uk are believed to be autistic, but studies show that figure can be much higher. At Aspire, we provide Autism support across Salford, including autism-accredited day support, supported living and respite care.

Our Autism Lead, Sharon Marsden, is here to answer some of your questions, and help to debunk some of those autism myths.

What is autism?

Autism is a neurological condition that affects how a person communicates, thinks, and interacts with other people.

It is a lifelong condition that you are born with. Sometimes autism is diagnosed early in life but for some, it may not be diagnosed until later in life, and in some cases, not at all.

There are around 700,000 people in the UK believed to be autistic. That’s around 1 in every 100 people but this is not a definitive number, and it is believed it could be higher.

It is known as a spectrum condition. This means that it affects people in different ways. Some autistic people may need little help or support whilst others may need more support.

Autism should be recognised and respected as part of human diversity.

Can autism be cured or treated?

No. There is no cure for autism, and it is not a medical condition that can be treated. Instead, people may need support to do certain things, like paying bills on time, to helping people plan their day. Some may need full time support whilst others may need a little bit of support to do day to day activities.

Many autistic adults feel that autism should be celebrated for its diversity and seen as a difference rather than a disadvantage.

Being autistic should not stop you from living the life you want. Each person is different and will have different challenges. One strategy that works well with one person may not be appropriate or effective with another. But, with the right support, autistic people can live a fulfilled and meaningful life.

What causes autism?

There is no definitive cause. Research suggests there is a genetic component. Some researchers believe illness in pregnancy or traumatic birth can contribute whilst others believe that environmental factors contribute. There have been suggestions that there is a link between autism and vaccinations. Much research has been dedicated to this and they have found no link between autism and vaccinations.

Autism is not….

  • A Learning disability
  • A learning difficulty, such as dyslexia or dyscalculia
  • A mental health
  • OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder)
  • ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder)

Autism can coexist alongside other conditions such as depression, anxiety, sensory differences, epilepsy, sleep difficulties, gastrointestinal difficulties plus many more.

It is important to recognise and understand how each condition affects the person to meet their needs.

Autism and ageing

As our mind and body undergo the process of ageing, co-existing conditions can change, and new conditions may develop, some related to ageing.

It is important to recognise these changes but not to make assumptions that they are physical or cognitive decline or that changes are based on ageing alone.

Signs to look out for:

  • physical anxiety, i.e., increased ‘stimming’ (self-stimulating behaviour)
  • withdrawing socially or, if the person is already withdrawn, an increase in this behaviour
  • deterioration of personal hygiene
  • loss of interest in things a person used to enjoy
  • paranoia
  • increase in anger/irritation/violence or all
  • increase of obsessional behaviour
  • increase or excessive alcohol intake
  • forgetfulness-especially of recent events
  • change in sleep patterns
  • suicidal ideas/threats of suicide or self-injury

If you are concerned, speak with the person’s family/carers, GP or health professional.

Any changes noted should be monitored and investigated, especially if they continue to persist over time.

If you would like more information on autism, or the support we have available in Salford, please contact Sharon Marsden at

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