Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) is the name for a range of similar conditions including Asperger syndrome. A spectrum condition means that although all autistic people share certain difficulties, being autistic will affect them in different ways.
People are born with ASD. Around 1 in 100 children have a diagnosis of being on the autism spectrum, however there are probably a lot more who are not diagnosed.
It is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.
Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a fulfilling life of their own choosing.
Some autistic people say the world feels overwhelming and this can cause them considerable anxiety.
People with autism may have difficulties with:
- Making and keeping friends
- Knowing how other people feel
- Understanding what people mean by what they say
- Knowing why people behave the way they do.
Autistic people often do not ‘look’ disabled. Some parents of autistic children say that other people simply think their child is naughty, while adults find that they are misunderstood.
A specialist CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) worker would need to diagnose ASD so you need a teacher or a doctor to refer you for an appointment. Visit your GP and talk to them first.
You will meet with a CAMHS specialist which could happen in your school, home, or one of the South Gloucestershire children’s services hubs. The worker will ask you lots of questions, they need to understand what’s causing your distress. Your family can come with if you want, but also if you want to be seen on your own you can be. This service is confidential, but if you talk to CAMHS about something that puts you at risk, your worker might need to tell someone else. They would discuss this with you first.
If you do have ASD then you may be offered additional help at school or college and invited to attend youth clubs for young people with ASD. If you do not have ASD you will be offered alternative help.
Getting an assessment and diagnosis may be helpful because:
- It helps autistic people (and their families, partners, employers, colleagues, teachers and friends) to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them
- It allows people to access services and support.
Schools employ a variety of people to look after your wellbeing. Some of the titles of these staff may vary in your school but you will be able to find out about them from a teacher. Most schools have a nurse who will either have a drop-in clinic or you can make an appointment to see them.
GP – you can make an appointment to visit your doctor or a nurse at the surgery to talk about any worries or concerns you have. Call your GP surgery to speak to the receptionist or go there in person. The receptionist will probably ask you who the appointment is for and why; this is to make sure that you see the right person at the right time. You don’t have to tell them why – you can just say it’s for something personal if you like.
If you think you’ll might have difficulty discussing your mental health with your GP, you can find advice about how to prepare How to Talk to Your GP About Mental Health
CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services) – these are community teams that help children and young people with emotional, behavioural and mental health difficulties.
Incredible Kids: A safe & supportive space to play together as a family. Specific times. Christ The King Church, Bradley Stoke incrediblekids.org.uk Information from Supportive Parents: Sources of information and support groups for parents and carers in South Gloucestershire www.supportiveparents.org.uk
Butterflies Haven: Support and social events for parents/carers, children and young people who are or may be affected by the autistic spectrum – www.butterflies-haven.co.uk
National Autistic Society South Gloucestershire branch http://nassouthgloucestershirebranch.webeden.co.uk/
Ambitious About Autism: National charity for children and young people with autism www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk
Asperger’s Syndrome Foundation: Promoting awareness and understanding of Asperger’s Syndrome www.aspergerfoundation.org.uk
The National Autistic Society: Leading UK charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families www.autism.org.uk. Mon- Thurs 10am – 4pm and Fri 9am – 3pm.
NAS Education Rights and Advice Service – aim to get back within 7 days 0808 800 4102 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Young Sibs: For siblings of disabled children www.youngsibs.org.uk
Kooth – Free, safe and anonymous online counselling support for young people aged 11-18yrs olds.
Practical advice and downloads for professionals and parents on topics such as dyspraxia, dyslexia, autism www.boxofideas.org
Asperger’s Syndrome: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Tony Attwood
Autism: a social skills approach for children and adolescents by Maureen Aarons and Tessa Gittens
Autism Spectrum Disorders: Practical Strategies for Teachers and Other Professionals by Northumberland County Council Communication Support Services UK
Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome?: A Guide for Friends and Family by Jude Welton
Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence by Tony Attwood and Luke Jackson
The Autistic Spectrum: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Lorna Wing
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon
The Reason I Jump: One Boy’s Voice from the Silence of Autism by Naoki Higashida