Recovery First Widnes - The five parameters of an ASD specific environment

Challenging behaviour often becomes a problem when service users with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are placed within a generic mental health setting. This is because the parameters that are put in place within an ASD specific environment cannot be achieved in a standard mental health ward.

These parameters can be split into five areas, all adopted at Recovery First Widnes:

1. Structured Environment 

The first being a Structured Environment with daily/weekly planners in place and daily orientation meetings taking place.

2. Positive Relationships

The second is Positive Relationships, staff must feel equipped to deal with anxieties and worries, remaining up-beat and having a positive approach.

3. Empathy

The third parameter is Empathy which is about understanding the problems associated with an ASD and how it impacts on each individual patient. This often proves difficult in generic mental health due to staffing numbers and the time staff have to spend with each individual. Sensory difficulties are also often difficult to manage within a generic setting as people with an ASD can be sensitive to touch, smell, sight, sound, taste etc.

4. Low Arousal

The fourth parameter is Low Arousal which the most difficult to achieve within a generic setting. A busy, noisy environment can be detrimental for individuals with an ASD, and this appears to be the norm in todays mental health services.

5. Links

The fifth parameter is Links which focuses on working closely with families, carers and other professionals involved to truly understand person centred planning.

Find out more regarding Service User success stories by reading our ASD specific case studies.

If you have any questions about our services at Recovery First Widnes or would like to discuss a placement, please contact us on 0151 909 2725 or email