Athletes with autism

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as it is now commonly known, is defined by WHO as a group of complex brain development disorders situated on a continuum of severity. These are characterised by difficulties in social interaction and communication and restricted and repetitive interests and activities.

Awareness of autism and ASD is growing across the world in both adults and children. Around 60-70 per cent of children who are diagnosed with autism, are also diagnosed with intellectual impairment. However, some people do not have intellectual impairments, and this condition was previously referred to as Asperger’s syndrome, or is sometimes called high-functioning autism.

This new group has been developed by Virtus to provide life-changing opportunities and to enable people with autism to compete at the highest levels of sport.

The eligibility criteria for II3 is:

  • a formal diagnosis of autism (ASD) carried out by a qualified practitioner and/or multidisciplinary team using accepted diagnostic techniques

Virtus will be monitoring and evaluating the new eligibility groups over time to refine and develop the criteria. It reserves the right to amend or remove the eligibility criteria at any time. The new criteria are specific to Virtus competition only.


Virtus is the brand name of the International Sports Federation for athletes with intellectual impairment and is a founding member of the International Paralympic Committee. Registered as a Charitable Incorporated Organisation in the UK (1173901)

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