Understanding Autism

As part of the World Mental Health Day we are hoping to support families all over Yorkshire who may be looking to understand more about Autism, are already on a journey towards an assessment or are looking for post diagnostic support.

Many people will have heard of Autism but will not necessarily understand what it is, what is looks like and of course what it means.

On the other hand, you may be a parent who fully understands ASD, has read every book Amazon can deliver and be working hard daily, to support your son or daughter manage their traits.

Often parents can feel that they are a lone voice, wishing that their school would also notice the things that they see at home. It can feel as if no one believes you, or you feel criticised that it might be due to nothing more than ‘parenting’.

We often hear that parents may look like they are coping and swimming calmly like swans – yet the reality is they are paddling madly below the surface just trying to stay afloat.

Photo by Harry Quan on Unsplash

What is Autism? 

Autism is a complex, lifelong developmental condition that typically appears during early childhood and can impact a person’s social skills, communication, relationships, and self-regulation.

Questions we often hear in the clinic, include whether Autism traits will change over time, how much these traits impact upon the child and what it means for their future. Will having a diagnosis be a positive step because there is more support available and a greater understanding of their needs or will it be a negative step because the child then carries a label?

Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviours and is a “spectrum condition” which means it affects people differently and to varying degrees.

While there is currently no known single cause of Autism, early diagnosis helps children receive the support and services that they need, which can lead to a quality life filled with opportunity. It can also ensure the child’s school is fully aware of their strengths and difficulties and can adapt the learning environment accordingly.

The core features of Autism would be present in early childhood but often they go unnoticed until social demands exceed the person’s capacity to cope. This basically means when there is too much change and too many unknowns, then challenges, that would previously have been masked by learnt coping strategies, are revealed. (American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual)

So, what kinds of things do we look for when we assess someone for Autism? 

The first area is to look at whether they have persistent differences in communication, interpersonal relationships, and social interaction across different environments. 

These things might include speech and language difficulties (including an absence of speech), having unusual accents or speech patterns, having trouble understanding and using nonverbal communication (body language), difficulty making and keeping friends and / or difficulty maintaining typical back-and-forth conversational style.

The second area is whether someone has some restricted and repetitive behaviour, patterns, activities, and interests.

This might include repeating sounds or phrases, repetitive movements, preference for sameness and difficulty with changes of routine. They may have rigid or highly restricted and intense interests, extreme sensitivity, or significantly lower sensitivity to various sensory stimuli such as noises.

Where can you turn for help?

If you are concerned about your son, daughter or yourself and feel that further assessment might be helpful then our team are available to help.

We offer ‘Gold Standard’ assessments for people of all ages which are recommended by government guidelines, and our Autism assessments are fully accepted by schools and the NHS.

We can also offer post diagnostic support which is often not available from other services, and we have no waiting times.

We are also open to face to face assessments to ensure that young people can continue to be assessed and have their needs identified despite the current pandemic which is halting so many other services.