03 April 2019 | Story Xolisa Mnukwa
Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), can be defined as a complex neurobehavioural condition which causes problems with language and communication skills. It also causes a person to have repetitive and rigid behaviour. Autism is characterised by a range of symptoms. World Autism Awareness Day 2019 concentrated effort on spreading awareness about the condition, and trying to break social, environmental, and psychological barriers that hampers autistic people.

The University of the Free State (UFS) Center for Universal Access and Disability Support (CUADS) supports students with ASD by providing them with an alternative assessment venue instead of writing together with other students. CUADS has sound-proof cubicles for the purpose of studying, as well as amanuensis services for writing tests and examinations. This enables the student to settle into a quiet environment without any disturbance, in order to minimise anxiety. The department also actively pursues building relationships between students and lecturers at the UFS to open up communication, which enables optimum support to the student by both the lecturers and CUADS.

There are many subtypes of autism, such as autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, Asperger's syndrome, and pervasive developmental disorder. These conditions are mostly influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Due to autism being a spectrum disorder, each person suffering from the condition has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think, and solves problems can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support, and in some cases, live entirely independently.


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