Autism is treatable, but incurable. A child with autism will therefore grow up into an adult with autism. In fact, it is more correct to refer to autism spectrum disorder (ASD) rather than autism, since the autism spectrum encompasses five different conditions. Within this spectrum, people with autism range between severely mentally disabled and intellectually brilliant. An example is Daantjie Badenhorst, who suffers from autism. Thanks to his exceptional and focused knowledge of music, he made a clean sweep of the TV programme ‘Noot vir Noot’.
Someone who is autistic but nevertheless functions well, is often only diagnosed when they become an adult. Such a person may have suffered considerable emotional and academic damage, since the lack of a diagnosis probably went hand in hand with incorrect treatment. When autism is finally detected, such an adult usually suffers from other conditions, such as depression due to difficult circumstances, problems with aggression, etc. Although savants do occur within the autism spectrum, all people living with autism present complex and varied mental conditions and impairments and although those within the spectrum of autism display a myriad of similar behavioural characteristics, no two people with autism have the same abilities or disabilities. For example, some have the amazing ability to draw in the most detailed three dimensional ways, whilst others have extremely poor grip and cannot even draw or write in the most basic way. Some are adept in an “academic” area but lack the most basic relationship, social and communication skills. This is extremely detrimental to their quality of life and hampers attempts at employment. They, too, require a safe and understanding environment in which to develop to their full potential and to work.