NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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Autism spectrum disorder

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Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects an estimated 1 in 100 people in the UK. The disorder affects behaviour, social interaction, communication and interests. In children, the symptoms present before the age of three years but a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the child turns three.


Symptoms of ASD can include:

  • Children not babbling or using vocal sounds in early infancy
  • Issues with non-verbal communication (e.g. eye contact, gestures, facial expression)
  • Lack of awareness or interest in other children
  • Delayed language development
  • Repetition of words and phrases spoken by others
  • Becoming upset if a normal routine is broken

For more information on ASD symptoms, visit the NHS choices website.


Due to the main feature of ASD being difficulty with social communication, the disorder is often recognised during early childhood. However some symptoms may become noticeable during a change in situation perhaps when the child starts school or nursery.

See your GP or health visitor if you have concerns about your child's development or you notice any of the symptoms of ASD. For more information on an ASD diagnosis visit the NHS choices website.


Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it’s assumed several complex genetic and environmental factors ae involved.

In the past, some people believed there was a link between a child receiving the MMR vaccine and presenting with ASD symptoms. However after extensive research in a number of major studies worldwide, involving millions of children, there was no link found between the MMR vaccine and ASD.

For more information visit the NHS choices website.

Caring for someone with ASD

Caring for someone with ASD can be challenging, it can be easy to forget about your own health and mental wellbeing, which is vital when caring for someone else. Therefore it’s important to get help if you need it.

You can read more about care and support, including information on:

Additionally, you can also call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053.

The Sheffield Autistic Society - a local charity for people with autism (including Asperger syndrome) and their families, who provide support and information, and campaign for a better world for Sheffield people – children, young persons and adults – with autism and Asperger syndrome. You can find their website here.

Additional information:

NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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