Frequently Asked Questions – Cork Association for Autism


How common are Autism Spectrum Disorders?

Although figures for the incidence of Autism Spectrum Disorders differ from study to study, most research indicates that autism occurs in approximately 1 in every 100 people in Ireland. More males are diagnosed with an Autism Spectrum Disorder than females: There are 4 males diagnosed with autism for each female diagnosed. There are 10 males diagnosed with Asperger syndrome for each female diagnosed. The reason for the increased incidence in males is unknown but researchers believe that the answer may be genetic.

Are Autism Spectrum Disorders associated with other disorders?
Autism Spectrum Disorders are sometimes associated with other disorders that include Fragile X, Tuberous Sclerosis, Down syndrome, Tourette syndrome, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, language disorder, Deficits in Attention, Motor Control, and Perception (DAMP), Attention Deficit Disorder (with and without hyperactivity) and Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). Around 30% of people with autism have epilepsy. Approximately 75% of people with autism have an intellectual disability.

There is also an increased incidence of mental health difficulties such as anxiety and depression, particularly during adolescence. People diagnosed with Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, PDD-Not Otherwise Specified and Rett syndrome have similar characteristics but do not fulfill the criteria for autism or Asperger syndrome.

How do Autism Spectrum Disorders affect the family?

Having a child with a disability can have a significant effect on parents. Parents may react to the diagnosis in a variety of ways including relief, shock, grief, anger and/or guilt. The upbringing of the child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can place enormous pressure and strain on the parents, brothers, sisters and extended family (e.g. grandparents). As social activities and everyday outings can be extremely difficult, it is important for families to seek out support.

How does it affect brothers and sisters?

Studies have shown that while having a brother or sister with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be stressful and difficult at times it can also be rewarding, positive and enriching. Offering age appropriate information, openly discussing fears and other emotions, spending special time with each child, and balancing household responsibilities so that the child does not become a ‘parent’, can help siblings adjust to having a brother or sister with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Challenges for siblings may include: feeling the need to compete for parents’ attention becoming over attentive to the child with an Autism Spectrum Disorder in an effort to gain parents’ approval striving to be the “good kid” and feeling under pressure to achieve or never get into trouble because their parents have enough to cope with feeling guilty that they are not the one with the disability or that they may somehow have contributed to the disability feeling embarrassment or anger at having a sibling with an Autism Spectrum Disorder, especially when they reach adolescence and have a need to fit in with their peers. Brothers and sisters of children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder often: develop a deep sense of family commitment are more mature than their peers are more compassionate and tolerant of other people’s differences are supportive and protective of their sibling and are proud of their achievements.

Do people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder have special abilities?

Some people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can perform well in particular areas. Drawing, music, calendar calculation and memory are the most common skills. These savant talents represent a very small percentage of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is the outlook for a person with an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

This varies considerably and is influenced by cognitive and verbal skills, and by education and management programs. Children with an Autism Spectrum Disorder grow up to be adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Education, support and advocacy need to continue throughout adulthood. Although, behaviours and skills can improve and develop over time.

Can people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder live independently?

When provided with appropriate support and experiences, many individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder are able to live independent lives, while others can live semi-independently, requiring support from their family, specialist services and/or support workers. With suitable intervention programs people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can develop skills that facilitate independence.

Where will he/she get a job?

A range of options are available to people upon leaving school including: Adults with an Autism Spectrum Disorder can be very good workers excelling in jobs that require precision and accuracy rather than speed and judgement. Some may become experts in their field of interest. Adults with autism may be supported in employment in a range of settings (e.g. offices, hospitals, medical laboratories, libraries) where their special skills and interests can be accommodated.

How do you tell someone that they have an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

There is no fixed age and no fixed way to tell someone that they have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. It depends very much on the individual’s age, their level of awareness and their need to know. Telling an individual about the diagnosis is not completed in a single conversation. It is a long-term process and may bring out a variety of responses ranging from denial to relief. Specialised support and counselling may be required to assist the individual and others through this process. There are a number of benefits in telling the individual and others about the diagnosis.

These may include: Having a diagnosis and information about the disorder can assist with understanding the feelings of being different Understanding the specific needs of people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder provides an opportunity to focus on strengths related to the disability Explaining to teachers or fellow students can result in a better understanding of the individual’s capabilities and facilitate greater inclusion. The same holds true for employment settings. However, providing information about the diagnosis can result in an individual feeling vulnerable and being the subject of teasing, bullying and/or discrimination. Individual circumstances must be considered when it comes to telling others about the diagnosis.


FAQs: Cork Association for Autism

When to contact the Cork Association for Autism?

The CAA provides supports to individuals from the age of 18 years old and upwards.

It is advisable to contact our organisation 6 – 12 months before reaching the eligible age. Of course, we welcome calls from all ages including children or older persons should you have a general query.

How to apply for access to the services that the CAA provides?

Should you wish to apply for residential, respite, day service or home support you should contact us at the main office by emailing or calling 021 453 3642 . 

Is there a waiting list for services?

Yes there is a waiting list for supports and services. Therefore it is advisable to apply in advance of requiring the supports.