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Autistic Spectrum Disorder

What is autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects the way a person communicates and relates to others. Many people with autism have a learning disability but all will have difficulty in making sense of the world.

The range and severity of autism can vary greatly which is why it is also referred to as autism spectrum disorder. Autism is not a condition that can be seen and does not have physical features.

What are the characteristics of autism?

All people with autism have problems with social interaction, social communication and imagination. They are referred to as the ‘triad of impairments’ by clinicians.

Social Interaction – People with autism tend to be socially isolated and have difficulty forming social relationships. They may seem distant or uncaring to others.

Social communication – People with autism have problems with verbal and non-verbal communication. They also have problems with understanding feelings, emotions or vague concepts. They are unable to give what is considered appropriate eye contact and have difficulty in understanding gestures and facial expressions.

Imagination – People with autism have difficulty in the development of play and imagination, and find it difficult to take part in pretend play. They prefer stability and dislike changes in routine.

Are there any treatments or therapies for autism? – There is no ‘cure’ for autism as it is a lifelong developmental disability. Specialist education and appropriate support can make a difference to the life of a person with autism.

Mencap: Principles of Support

The Government’s vision for transforming the lives of and outcomes for adults with autism is: ‘All adults with autism are able to live fulfilling and rewarding lives within a society that accepts and understands them. They can get a diagnosis and access support if they need it, and they can depend on mainstream public services to treat them fairly as individuals, helping them make the most of their talents.’

For adults with autism, this means:
+ Having a right to receive an assessment of need from social services.
+ Getting the same opportunities for education and further education as everyone else.
+ Being supported to get a job and stay in work.
+ Being able to choose where to live – just like anyone else.
+ Having relationships and social networks.
+ Having their health needs properly met in a way which is appropriate for someone with autism.
+ Being safe from hate crime and discrimination.
+ Living in a society where people understand, respect and accommodate difference, and receiving support to live independently, as appropriate.
+ ‘Fulfilling and rewarding lives’ The strategy for adults with autism in England (2010).

The Support provided through Potens.

Person Centred & Outcome Focused Approach – Support is focused around the needs and wishes of each individual, working towards independence & enabling self direction through collaboration with family, carers and key workers in achievement of individual goals and aspirations.

Health – Physical & mental health needs are continually assessed to ensure the best health & wellbeing for the people we support. As far as is practicably possible, Service Users are supported to manage their own healthcare needs through an individual health action plan.

Risk Management – Positive risk management recognises and builds on an individual’s strengths through the development of personal support plans and risk assessments that support and encourage potential through reasonable risk taking.

Behaviour that challenges & Potens Behaviour Support & Therapy Team – Potens BST team work closely with Potens services offering advice, guidance and training around any individuals with behaviour that challenges. The team is made up of a Behavioural Psychotherapist and a Behavioural Therapist with specialist skills around behavioural issues and autistic spectrum disorder including Aspergers Syndrome.

All behaviour is a form of communication that tells us how the person we support is feeling or what they are thinking. The team support people to develop alternative ways to communicate their needs.

The BST team are registered members of the British Psychological Society (BPS) and The British Association of Behavioural & Cognitive Psychotherapies (BABCP).

Potens offers a range of services for people with autism, please see our Locations page for information about services in your area, or please contact us to find out more or to make a referral.

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