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Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)

Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD) also known as 'autism spectrum disorder' encompass a variety of conditions, including autism and high functioning autism (Asperger syndrome), which can affect a person’s ability to respond, communicate and interact with others in social situations. This can have a significant impact on learning, development and the ability to build relationships. Autism is not a mental health condition; it is widely conceptualised as being a pervasive developmental disorder (PDD) which is present from birth.

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Broadly speaking, autism causes its own typical symptoms. However, at Priory, we understand that no two individuals with ASD have precisely the same symptoms, or adapt to certain situations in the same way. Furthermore, the specific characteristics and ability to function in different environments and social settings can be substantially different between people.

ASD is a complex condition, which is why we are committed to providing a range of services which may be accessed at any stage of the disorder. We offer additional services if you or someone that you care for has an ASD, including high functioning autism (Asperger syndrome), through Priory Education and Children's Services and Priory Adult Care.

Diagnosing Autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)

Signs of ASD in your child can be seen in early childhood, where a difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication such as using limited or no speech even after the age of two, not waving goodbye at an appropriate age, or having only a small variety of facial expressions, can be early signs of the condition. These difficulties become more apparent when your child is of school age when social interaction is increasingly complex.

Your child may have a diagnostic assessment for ASD as young as three years old, but many people are not diagnosed with high functioning autism (Asperger syndrome) until adolescence or much later in life, as the impact of these symptoms is often not as extreme as other forms of autism.

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Care and management of ASD at Priory

Priory have the capability to provide ASD diagnoses, as well as dedicated services to help young people and their families to understand their diagnosis. 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 you or your child to best manage your anxieties that stem from situations that are not easily controlled or indeed, are entirely uncontrollable.

Priory Education and Children's Services provides specialist schools, colleges and children's homes across the UK. Our aim is to help young people on the autistic spectrum to develop their education, social and independence skills so they can fulfil their aspirations and potential.

Priory Adult Care offers a range of bespoke residential and supported living care for adults with an ASD, within safe and homely environments. Our services are specifically designed to support individuals in leading active and independent lives.

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 people may always need support, others do go on to lead independent lives.

At Priory, different sites specialise in helping those at different points across the spectrum, who may also present with co-occurring mental health conditions. Although people with ASD may lack an innate understanding of aspects of the social world, some of these can be learned through teaching and support.

This page was clinically reviewed by Dr Hayley van Zwanenberg (MBBS, MMedSci, MRCPsych) in August 2020, and is scheduled to be reviewed again in August 2022. To view all Priory ASD specialists, please click here.

What is an ASD?
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Signs and symptoms of ASDs
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Signs and symptoms of ASD in pre-school children
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Signs and symptoms of ASD in school-age children
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What causes autism?
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For details of how Priory can provide you with assistance regarding mental health and wellbeing, please call 0800 840 3219 or click here to submit an enquiry form. For professionals looking to make a referral, please click here

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