Everyone with an ASD has difficulties in three main areas. These are known as ‘the triad of impairments’, or ‘the three impairments’:

1. Social Interaction
Difficulty understanding social ‘rules’, behaviour and relationships, for example, appearing indifferent to other people or not understanding how to take turns

2. Social Communication
Difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication, for example, not fully understanding the meaning of common gestures, facial expressions or tone of voice.

3. Rigidity of Thinking and Difficulties with Social Imagination
Difficulty in the development of interpersonal play and imagination, for example, having a limited range of imaginative activities, possibly copied and pursued rigidly and repetitively.

All individuals with ASD have impairments in all three of these areas. However, the ways in which the three impairments manifest themselves vary enormously.