Broadly speaking, autism causes its own typical symptoms. However, Priory understands that no two autism or Asperger’s sufferers will necessarily present with the same levels or intensities of need. Furthermore, individuals with the same diagnosis may appear at different points along the scale. It is often more helpful to think in terms of degrees of and numbers of traits associated with ASC, than it is to think purely in terms of diagnosis. That is why Priory interprets the autism ‘spectrum’ as more of a three-dimensional sphere as opposed to a two-dimensional horizontal plane. This informs the ways in which we put together and review each of our service user’s care plans.
What causes autism?
Autism and its cause is the focus for a significant amount of active research. Experts believe autism is caused by the way in which the brain develops before, during or soon after birth. Genetics is thought to play its part too, however the exact cause is still unknown.
Signs and symptoms of Autistic Spectrum Conditions
Autism is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) which is present from birth and detectable in a person’s brain. It affects a person’s ability to communicate with others, relate to others and their immediate and wider environment, and also to process information. It can be accompanied by additional learning difficulties. Those with autism can be hyper-sensitive or hypo-sensitive to sensory stimulation such as sounds, smells or colours. Predictability and a daily routine are also typically sought by service users with an ASD.
Although certain autistic traits can be seen in AS, those with the disorder tend to be better able to express themselves verbally and are of average or above average intelligence.
Their main difficulties stem from the ‘Triad of Impairment’:
- Social communication – processing language, verbal intonation and tone, figures of speech and literal thinking
- Social interaction – understanding non-verbal cues, unspoken social rules, forming friendships and appreciating social contexts, they may also appear odd or inappropriate to others
- Social imagination – lack of empathy, seeing situations from another’s perspective, predicting and understanding feelings and reactions, and foreseeing consequences of events and actions
Care and management of autism and Asperger’s Syndrome at the Priory
Priory sites and staff work towards making environments as suitable and predictable as possible, with the most appropriate levels of stimulation to minimise any anxiety caused by autistic traits. At the same time, we support people to best manage their anxieties that stem from those things not easily controlled or indeed entirely uncontrollable.
Through specialised staff, structured personalised programmes, social skills groups and one to one sessions, therapeutic input and education, we look to support people to maximise their potential and independence, regardless of their diagnosis. Whilst some may always need much support, others do go on to lead independent lives.
At the Priory, different sites specialise in helping those at different points across the spectrum, who may also present with comorbid mental health. Although those with an ASC may lack innate understanding of aspects of the social world, some of these can be learned through teaching and support.
Additional autistic spectrum services
The Priory Group of Companies understand the complexities of autistic spectrum disorders and provide a range of services which may be accessed at any stage. We offer additional services for individuals with an autistic spectrum disorder, including Asperger’s Syndrome, through our education division and also our sister company Craegmoor, which is also part of the wider Priory Group of Companies.
Our education services provide flexible packages of education, therapy and care which are designed to support the complexities related to autism and Asperger’s Syndrome, through specialist day and residential schools and colleges, and children’s and young adult’s homes across the UK. Craegmoor specialises in supported living, community outreach, residential, respite and day services for people with autism, with progression through a care pathway that fulfills each individual’s maximum potential whilst mitigating the possibility of upheaval and placement breakdown.