Autism Help For Social Care Professionals – National Autistic Society, UK
The National Autistic Society (NAS) has launched a guide to assessing and supporting adults with autism after the charity’s I Exist campaign revealed a widespread lack of understanding and training in the condition amongst social care professionals.
There is currently very little guidance for those who carry out assessments of need. Co-authored by NAS professionals with a social work background, the social care guide aims to address this by exploring the complexities of autism and the challenges involved in accurately assessing someone with the disability. Difficulties related to their condition may mean that people with autism struggle to identify and communicate their needs, thoughts and feelings in the way others would expect them to. The diversity and individuality of autism also means that no two people will be affected in quite the same way.
Co-author, Andrew Powell, NAS Support Programmes Coordinator said; “Autism is much more common than most people think -affecting 1 in 100 people – and all social care professionals should expect to come into contact with someone with the condition. Autism-specific knowledge is key, but it’s also vital that individuals and families are always at the centre of planning and delivering appropriate support rather than making assumptions about the condition. Without the right support autism can have a profound and sometimes devastating effect, so accurate assessment is crucial.”
An adult with autism told the NAS; “My obvious verbal intelligence masks the level of my support needs. The last support worker I had knew nothing about autism at all and could not understand the help I required.”
Carrying out an effective assessment can prevent the need for more expensive crisis support at a later stage. The NAS social care guide covers: preparing for and undertaking assessments, aspects of autism that may mean people’s support needs are misinterpreted, taking account of sensory issues and associated health and behavioural conditions, person-centred planning, communication strategies and supporting families.
A free copy of the guide is available from www.think-differently.org.uk/campaign.
Key statistics from the NAS I Exist Campaign:
– 63% of adults with autism do not have enough support to meet their needs
– At least 1 in 3 adults with autism are experiencing severe mental health difficulties due to a lack of support
– Around 70% of local authorities do not think that care managers receive sufficient training in autism in their initial and ongoing professional training
– Over three quarters of local authorities do not have an autism training strategy
The NAS I Exist campaign aims to improve the lives of the many thousands of adults with autism who are isolated and ignored. Most are unable to access the support they need and are often dependent on their families. The lack of understanding, support and suitable services can have a devastating impact. The NAS wants Government and local authorities to take action to transform lives. Visit www.think-differently.org.uk for further information.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them. It is a spectrum condition, which means that, while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism are able to live relatively independent lives but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support. People with autism may also experience over- or under-sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
Asperger syndrome is a form of autism. People with Asperger syndrome are often of average or above average intelligence. They have fewer problems with speech but may still have difficulties with understanding and processing language.
The National Autistic Society is the UK’s leading charity for people with autistic spectrum disorders and their families. Founded in 1962, it continues to spearhead national and international initiatives and provide a strong voice for all people with autism. The NAS provides a wide range of services to help people with autism and Asperger syndrome live their lives with as much independence as possible. The NAS relies on the support of its members and donors to continue its vital work for people with autism. To become a member, make a donation or to find out more about the work of the NAS, visit the NAS website http://www.autism.org.uk .
The NAS Autism Services Directory is the UK’s most comprehensive directory of services and events for people with autism. Visit http://www.autism.org.uk/autismdirectory to find autism services and support networks in your area.