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The definition of autism set out in Fulfilling and rewarding lives, the Strategy for adults with autism in England (2010) follows the World Health Organisation's International Statistical Classification of Diseases-10 criteria which define autism as a lifelong condition that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people, and how a person makes sense of the world around them. In line with the approach to terminology adopted by key autism representative organisations, including the National Autistic Society, as well as the National Audit Office and the Public Accounts Committee, "autism" was used as an umbrella term for conditions such as Asperger's syndrome, autistic spectrum disorder, autistic spectrum condition, autistic spectrum difference and neuro-diversity.
Autism is an internationally recognised disorder and the Government's position is that it is not necessary to enact legislation that confers a legal definition or recognition. The Equality Act 2010 protects disabled people who have "a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on their ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities". This includes people with autism and ensures that they are protected from discrimination.