Autism Information

What is Autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopment condition as defined by DSM IV that is characterised by the way people communicate and interact with the world.  Different Journeys operates on a social model for disability. We don’t have all the answers. There are lots of great autistic voices out there who we can learn from, all the while recognising it has to be at your pace and your journey. Some of the greatest challenges are knowing what support is available and how it can help.

Autism is a whole of life condition. There are many facets to an autistic person and one piece is their autism. This means intersectionality is really prevalent i.e. autism and mental health, autism and employment, autism and schools, just to name a few.

“There is nothing wrong with us. Often it is just a scaffolding system of supports and options to enable us to be set up for success.”- Mel Spencer OAM, Co-Founder and CEO

High rates of co-occuring mental health conditions in autistic people coupled with inadequate support, have led to the ‘mental health crisis’ in autism (Mandy, 2022).

Will Mandy

Frequently Asked Questions


The autism spectrum refers to a range of neurodevelopmental conditions known as autism. While the term "autism spectrum" encompasses a diverse group of individuals, they share some common characteristics related to social communication and behavior. However, the way these characteristics manifest can be vastly different from one person to another. Some individuals on the autism spectrum may have significant impairments in communication and require substantial support in daily life, while others may have milder challenges and be able to function relatively independently.

Autism can be diagnosed as early as 18 to 24 months of age, although some signs and symptoms may be noticed even earlier. Early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for optimising outcomes for individuals with autism, as it allows for timely support and specialized interventions that can promote development and address specific challenges.

No, there is no credible scientific evidence to support a link between vaccines and autism. Extensive research conducted over the years has consistently shown that there is no association between receiving vaccines and an increased risk of developing autism.

The idea that vaccines cause autism was based on a now-debunked study published in 1998. The study, conducted by Andrew Wakefield, suggested a link between the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine and autism. However, this study was later found to be fraudulent, and its results were retracted by the journal that published it.

Yes, adults can be diagnosed with autism. Autism is a lifelong condition, and many individuals who were not diagnosed in childhood may receive a diagnosis later in life. Some people may have had milder or less apparent symptoms, which might not have been recognized or understood during their early years. Additionally, awareness and understanding of autism have increased over the years, leading to better recognition and diagnosis in both children and adults.

The exact cause of autism is not yet fully understood, and it is likely to be a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors. Researchers believe that autism is a result of a combination of genetic susceptibility and certain environmental influences during early brain development.

In 2021 autism prevalence rates in Australia were estimated to be 1 in 150 individuals with 88% of the community having a personal connection with an autistic person.

Myth: All individuals with autism have the same characteristics and abilities.

Fact: Autism is a spectrum disorder, and each individual is unique. The range of symptoms and abilities can vary widely from person to person.

Myth: People with autism cannot lead independent lives.

Fact: With the right support and accommodations, many individuals with autism can lead fulfilling and independent lives. Supportive services and interventions can help them achieve their full potential.

Myth: Autism is a result of poor nutrition or allergies.

Fact: There is no evidence to support the claim that autism is caused by dietary factors or allergies.

Myth: Individuals with autism are not interested in socialising or making friends.

Fact: Many people with autism desire social connections and friendships, but they may struggle with social interactions due to challenges in understanding social cues and communication.

Myth: Autism is a mental illness that can be treated with medication.

Fact: Autism is a developmental disorder, not a mental illness. While medication may be prescribed to address specific symptoms (e.g. anxiety or ADHD), it does not treat autism itself.

In Australia, autism assessment and diagnosis typically involves a comprehensive evaluation by a team of healthcare professionals, including pediatricians, child psychologists, developmental pediatricians, or specialists with expertise in diagnosing autism.

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