This is the first blog that links to the You Tube videos – Tutorial Tuesday and Strategy Saturday. I had to carefully consider the starting point and of course, it needs to be the beginning. Where else would it be sensible to start?
And the beginning should be – What is autism?
Autism is a life long, neurological condition that affects the way a person relates to and communicates with the world around them.
According to the most up to date figures from the National Autistic Society, there are approximately 1 in 100 people diagnosed with autism in the UK. However, unpublished figures suggest it may be more than that. The current published figures suggest a ration of 4:1 males to females are diagnosed with autism, although this is changing as more becomes known about autistic females.
Every autistic person has their own unique profile and the saying goes ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. It should always be remembered that everyone is a person first and that autism is not something that is added on, it IS the person themselves. Autism is referred to as a ‘spectrum condition or disorder’ meaning that it encompasses many different people but an autism diagnosis is based on 2 main criteria. This criteria can be found in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fifth edition (DSM-5). In DSM-5, other terms that had been used as a diagnosis (such as Asperger Syndrome) are now replaced by ASD or Autism Spectrum Disorder.
The DSM-5 manual defines autism spectrum disorder as “persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction” and “restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviours, activities or interests” (this includes sensory behaviour), present since early childhood, to the extent that these “limit and impair everyday functioning”.
The Autism Education Trust breaks this into Four Key Areas of Difference, which is an easy to understand and accessible way to view the diagnostic criteria.
Autism is a disability as described by the 2010 Equality Act and as a result ‘reasonable adjustments must be made to support needs:
“a physical or a mental condition which has a substantial and long-term impact on your ability to do normal day to day activities”
The condition was first researched by Leo Kanner back in the 1930s although his view of autism at the time was very narrow. If you are interested in reading more about both Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger and the history of autism, Steve Silberman does a great job of this in his book Neurotribes.
So there you have it – an introduction to autism! Hope you found this a useful read