Problems with the development of the mirror neuron system could play a role in the social difficulties experienced by people with autism, who may require respite care.
A study published in Biological Psychiatry investigated the mirror neuron system, which allows humans to understand and predict the behaviour of other people.
The study showed that the mirror system was not broken in people with the condition, but delayed.
Dr Christian Keysers explained: "While most of us have their strongest mirror activity while they are young, autistic individuals seem to have a weak mirror system in their youth, but their mirror activity increases with age, is normal by about age 30 and unusually high thereafter."
It is believed that this increase in the functioning of the mirror system could be due to improved ability in social situations or the result of rehabilitative therapies.
This comes after research printed in the Archives of General Psychiatry revealed that the prevalence of individuals in the UK with autism spectrum disorder is 9.8 per 1,000 population.
Find out about Barchester's support for adults and children with a wide range of Autistic spectrum conditions