World Autism Awareness Week

World Autism Awareness Week

Autism Defintion: a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.


Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, this means autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.

Some Facts and Statistics
– Autism doesn’t just affect children. Autistic children grow up to be autistic adults.
– Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone is autistic.
– While autism is incurable, the right support at the right time can make an enormous difference to people’s lives.
– 34% of children on the autism spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on.
– 63% of children on the autism spectrum are not in the kind of school their parents believe would best support them.
– 17% of autistic children have been suspended from school; 48% of these had been suspended three or more times; 4% had been expelled from one or more schools.
– 70% of autistic adults say that they are not getting the help they need from social services. Seventy per cent of autistic adults also told us that with more support they would feel less isolated.
– At least one in three autistic adults are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support.
– Only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment, and only 32% are in some kind of paid work.
– Only 10% of autistic adults receive employment support but 53% say they want it.

Gender
Statistics show that more men and boys than women and girls have a diagnosis of autism. Various studies, together with anecdotal evidence have come up with men/women ratios ranging from 2:1 to 16:1.
– Brugha’s 2009 survey of adults living in households throughout England found that 1.8% of men and boys surveyed had a diagnosis of autism, compared to 0.2% of women and girls.
– Hans Asperger thought no women or girls were affected by the syndrome he described in Autistic psychopathy in childhood (1944), although clinical evidence later caused him to revise this thinking.
– In Leo Kanner’s 1943 study of a small group of children with autism there were four times as many boys as girls.
– In their much larger 1993 study of Asperger syndrome in mainstream schools in Sweden, Ehlers and Gillberg found the same boy to girl ratio of 4:1.
– In 2015, the ratio of men to women who use NAS adult services was approximately 3:1, and in those that use NAS schools it is approximately 5:1.
– Lorna Wing found in her paper on sex ratios in early childhood autism that among people with ‘high-functioning autism’ or Asperger syndrome there were as many as 15 times as many men and boys as women and girls, while in people with learning difficulties as well as autism the ratio of men and boys to women and girls was closer to 2:1.

A Cure?
There is no known ‘cure’ for autism. This does not mean, however, that nothing can be done to help a person who is on the autism spectrum. Our understanding of autism has grown tremendously since it was first identified in the 1940s, and as we learn more about the condition, more evidence-based interventions will undoubtedly become available.
Because autism is a ‘spectrum’ condition it affects different people in different ways. It is therefore very difficult to generalise about how an autistic person will develop over time. It is particularly important to realise that an intervention which works well with one person may not be appropriate or effective with another, and that there can be much controversy over what an appropriate and effective intervention might entail.
The characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations. Two people with the same diagnosis can have a very different profile of needs and skills.
Asperger Syndrome
Asperger syndrome is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people view the world and can affect how they connect with others.
People with Asperger syndrome see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you have Asperger syndrome, you have it for life – it is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured’. Often people feel that Asperger syndrome is a fundamental part of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people have certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some people with Asperger syndrome also have mental health issues or other conditions. This means that those with Asperger Syndrome need different levels and types of support.
People with this profile of Autism are of average or above average intelligence. They do not usually have the learning disabilities that many autistic people have, but they may have specific learning difficulties. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
PDA – Pathological Demand Avoidance
PDA is increasingly, but not universally, accepted as a behaviour profile that is seen in some individuals on the autism spectrum.
People with a PDA behaviour profile share difficulties with others on the autism spectrum in social communication, social interaction and restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests.
However, those who present with this particular diagnostic profile are driven to avoid everyday demands and expectations to an extreme extent. This demand avoidant behaviour is rooted in an anxiety-based need to be in control.
While the PDA profile has been found to be relatively uncommon, it’s important to recognise and understand the distinct behaviour profile as it has implications for the way a person is best supported.
The distinctive features of a PDA profile include:
– resists and avoids the ordinary demands of life
– uses social strategies as part of avoidance, eg distracting, giving excuses
– appears sociable, but lacks understanding
– experiences excessive mood swings and impulsivity
– appears comfortable in role play and pretence
– displays obsessive behaviour that is often focused on other people

Recently, The Secret Young Person created a blog post about Autism to get how he/she feels. You can find it here @ https://b-townyouth.co.uk/the-secret-young-person-blog/autism-understood/

You can find out more about Autism @ http://www.autism.org.uk/about.aspx