What is Autism?
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how people perceive the world around them, how they understand their own emotions and those of others and how they interact with others. It is often accompanied by a rigid style of thinking.
Autism is a spectrum condition which means while people on the spectrum share similar core difficulties they can also have significant differences- some people with Autism are incredibly bright and academically very able and others may have learning difficulties ranging from profound to mild.
Autism is not an illness or a disease and cannot “be cured”. Individuals with Autism and their families prefer to consider themselves as neurodiverse – with a range of strengths and special skills that “neurotypicals” may not have. They see and feel the world differently and for each person their Autism will affect them in different ways.
Our multi-disciplinary team aims to ensure prompt and appropriate diagnosis in accordance with NICE guidelines taking into account the young person’s presentation across multiple settings and their strengths and weaknesses with the aim of providing advice on how best to support the individual long term ensuring they are accepted and understood.
Our assessment involves an ADOS-2 assessment carried out by our Specialist Speech and language therapists or Clinical Psychologist providing information on behaviours/communication/play that may be related to an Autism Spectrum Disorder. A Neurodevelopmental history is taken from the parent/carer by our Paediatricans who specialise in ASD diagnostics. Supplementary information from school or other sources is then used in our Multi-Disciplinary report. In a smaller number of children who may find it difficult to participate in the ADOS in a new setting or where further evidence is required we arrange with parental consent to carry out an observation of the child in school.
In order for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having had difficulties before the age of three with their social communication and social interaction as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, interest or activities to the extent that the person is functionally impaired due to these difficulties.
Different labels used
Different diagnostic labels such as Classic Autism, Asperger Syndrome, High Functioning Autism, and PDDNOS have been used but nowadays with the introduction of DSM V these labels are generally replaced with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).
Other conditions such as ADHD, Tic disorders/ Tourette’s , anxiety, depression, OCD, sensory processing disorder and specific learning difficulties are known to be associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Reading materials/useful information
www.autism.org.uk – The National Autistic Society with local branches provides useful information to families and individuals with ASD .There are local support groups, befriending schemes and lots of useful tips/strategies as well as National campaigns to support.
www.autismni.org – Northern Ireland’s Autism charity. Support and training opportunities for parents and affected individuals. Lots of local events to support families as well as plenty of helpful advice and sign posting to other services.
www.middletownautism.com – helpful advice, courses and training for parents and professionals with online learning and excellent resources for parents of teenagers with ASD covering issues such as transitions, puberty, sexuality and mental health.
www.livingwellwithautism.com - sensible advice for parents and young people with ASD in an easy to digest format.
www.wrongplanet.net – fun and informative website on Asperger Syndrome for parents and young people.
www.senac.co.uk – Advice and information for parents on educational issues and statementing.
Uniquely human – A different way of seeing Autism by Barry M Prizant – A lovely down to earth book about the realities of ASD but also looking towards considering ASD as neurodiversity and the strengths related to it – with heart warming extracts from real cases.
Neurotribes- Steve Silberman- the legacy of Autism and the future of Neurodiversity. A big book!! But a wonderful and worthwhile read on the history of Autism and the champions who uncovered its meaning as well as the outlook for the future. A positive read also for those older patient’s of ours who are very capable and could benefit from being told about the postives of ASD.
A complete guide to Asperger Syndrome – Tony Attwood – a wonderful description of Asperger Syndrome from someone with many years of experience of it -mostly of benefit for parents.
BOOKS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE WITH ASD
Aspergirls, Rudy Simone – with advice and support from Females with ASD including Rudy as well as advice for Parents. This is a lovely positive book.
Freaks,Geeks and Asperger’s syndrome, Luke Jackson
The reason I jump, Naoki Higashida
Mind maps for kids, Tony Buzan
I am Aspiengirl – Tania Marshall – mostly pictures and short paragraphs so lovely for younger girls
All of these books can be purchased on www.amazon.co.uk
Useful website for young people and parents