Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others.
Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health problems or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS)
The Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule (ADOS) is a semi-structured assessment of communication, social interaction, and play (or imaginative use of materials) for individuals suspected of having autism or other pervasive developmental disorders. The ADOS consists of four modules, each of which is appropriate for children and adults of differing developmental and language levels, ranging from nonverbal to verbally-fluent.
The ADOS offers clinicians and researchers the opportunity to observe social behaviour and communication in standardised, well-documented contexts. These contexts are defined in terms of the degree to which the examiner's behaviour structures the individual participant's response and social initiative. For purposes of diagnosis, use of this instrument should be accompanied by information from other sources, particularly a detailed history from parents whenever possible (see Lord, Rutter & Le Couteur, 1994). Its goal is to provide standardised contexts in which to observe the social-communicative behaviours of individuals across the life span in order to aid in the diagnosis of autism and other pervasive developmental disorders. For this reason, it may not be a good measure of response to treatment or developmental gains especially in the later modules. On the other hand, some items have been deliberately included across several modules, even though they have diagnostic utility only in one (e.g., response to joint attention). It may be that developmental or treatment gains will be measurable using these items. An alternative strategy to measure absolute gains is to re-administer the same modules over time, as well as administering the developmentally-appropriate module.