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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

 All children with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have SLCN. This affects 1% of all children
(Baird et al, 2006)

(ASD) is an umbrella term often used to describe a number of conditions including:

  • Classic autism
  • High functioning autism
  • Asperger Syndrome
  • Pathological Demand Avoidance
  • Non-verbal learning difficulties.

The idea of a spectrum is useful because it supports the idea that individuals with autism have a range of needs which require a spectrum of intervention and provision.

Individuals with an ASD often have complex needs and there can often be a co-existing difficulty present, this will clearly influence that person's overall needs. Some of the common co-existing conditions are: Learning difficulty, ADHD, Epilepsy, Dyspraxia, Dyslexia and Tourettes.

Key messages

Many people with an ASD have written personal accounts (Grandin, 1995; Jackson, 2002; Sainsbury, 2000). Two of the outstanding messages are:

  • That there are many strengths, or gifts, associated with having an ASD, as well as difficulties
  • That people with an ASD experience the world and think differently from people of typical neurological development. It is therefore helpful to think of the challenges and difficulties that people with an ASD face in everyday life.

Triad of impairments

Individuals with an ASD demonstrate, to a greater of lesser degree, difficulties in the development of three key areas:

  1. Communication: difficulties can range from no speech at all to apparent fluent speech – although, when examined, this may be repetitive or about their own special interest and not true conversation.
  2. Socialising: with initiating and maintaining appropriate social relationships and understanding the rules of reciprocal social interaction.
  3. Flexibility of thought: with rigid and sometimes inflexible thinking which may lead to a resistance to change, an insistence on set routines and repetitive behaviours.

Sensory issues

In addition, there may be sensory issues which can have a huge impact on a person's ability to interface with any situation, another individual or activity. When planning any programme it is essential to assess and identify any specific sensory issues and to adjust the environment and situations accordingly.

Meeting the needs of children with ASD

The needs of most pupils with an ASD can be met in mainstream school. However, success is very dependent on a thorough assessment of their functioning in their environment, an interpretation of presenting behaviours with an autism focus and appropriate evidence-based interventions being implemented. In addition, the level of awareness and willingness of staff to adapt to the needs of a pupil with an ASD is crucial to final success.  

  • To help exemplify what children on the autistic spectrum experience, refer to the case studies in the Autism IDP
  • For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder and support in Worcestershire, contact ISSS.

© Worcestershire County Council and Worcestershire PCT 2011.

Further Information

In this section

More Information

See also in our website

External websites

  • Hello Campaign
    Here you will find what the Hello campaign is all about
  • Speech, Language and Communication Framework The SLCF lists all the skills and knowledge that everyone working with children needs to know to support the communication development
  • Language for Learning
    Provides courses and resources for staff from Early Years to Secondary Level and training and materials for trainers to deliver these courses within their own Authorities
  • The National Strategies
    Information from the Department for Education (DfE)

We are not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more

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This page was last reviewed 17 May 2013 at 13:41.
The page is next due for review 13 November 2014.