Skip to main content

Autism

Autism

Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them.  Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people.  If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'.  Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.

Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a fulfilling life of their own choosing.

Every child is unique, so any description needs to be taken as a general guide. However, all children diagnosed as having an autistic spectrum disorder will show difficulties in three main areas referred to as the ‘triad of impairment’. 

What is the Triad of Impairment?

Social communication

Children with autism can have difficulty understanding why they need to communicate. They may not be able to identify their own needs or communicate them to others. Some children with autism never develop spoken language or speech may develop much later than expected. Some children develop echolalia – repeating words they have heard that have little meaning. Other children may have good spoken language skills, but may still find it difficult to understand the two-way nature of conversation.

Non-verbal communication is also impaired, causing difficulty in understanding simple gestures such as nodding and shaking the head. Many children have a very literal understanding of language and think that people always mean exactly what they say. For example, the verbal prompt; Wash your hands in the toilet’ may lead the child to attempt to wash her hands in the toilet bowl. Open ended questions can also be challenging, as there are endless possible answers.

Social interaction

Children with autism have difficulty understanding how to interact with other people, including recognising and understanding other people’s feelings and expressing their own. They may not understand the unwritten social rules that other children naturally develop, for example, they may stand too close to other children, touch inappropriately or disrupt other children’s play. Some children play alone, rarely seeking the company of others.

Difficulties with social interaction mean that children with autism often find it hard to form friendships. Some may want to interact with others and make friends, but not know how to do so.

Social imagination

Children with autism will often have difficulty playing imaginatively with toys or with other children and adults. They have a limited range of imaginative play and sometimes copy actions and words from something they have seen eg on the television. They may tend to focus on the parts of an object rather than the whole thing, for example, spinning the wheels of a car rather than pushing it.

Difficulties in this area also mean that children cannot predict what will happen next, for example remembering that when a parent goes out, they come back again.

Peterborough Neurodevelopmental Service (NDS)

The Peterborough Neurodevelopmental Service (NDS) is an integrated multi-agency/multi-
disciplinary service for school aged children and young people (aged 5-17 years) with
diagnosed or suspected ADHD or autism and youngsters (5-18 years) with a diagnosed
learning disability.  The service is provided by Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS
Foundation Trust (CPFT).

The team is made up of consultant psychiatrists, consultant paediatricians, clinical psychologists, nurses, support workers and assistant psychologists.

Multi Agency Autism Strategy Group

We have established a multi-agency autism strategy group and developed an autism
commissioning strategy to provide a framework within which to improve service and
support for children, young people and adults with autism.

Autism Specialist Teacher Service (ASTS)

The Autism Specialist Teacher Service (ASTS) is a school based service and works with children and young people aged 4 years to 19 years who have a diagnosis of an Autistic Spectrum Diagnosis (ASD).  

A parent/carer consultation service operates on the second Monday of the month. Appointments need to be pre- booked by telephoning 01733 863689. 

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Specialist Teacher Service

The Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) Specialist Teacher Service is a school based service that works with children and young people aged 4 years to 19 years who have received a diagnosis of an ADHD.  

The ADHD Specialist Teacher Service is a peripatetic service and works term time only,
on the second Tuesday of the month

Transitions to Secondary Schools in Peterborough for Children with ADHD

Although challenging to most children, the core symptoms of ADHD (Inattention, distractibility and impulsivity) can make moving up from Primary School to Secondary School a particularly demanding time.

Tasks that typically prove difficult to children with ADHD when they start secondary school may include:

  • Understanding a new timetable and learning the way round a new school
  • Noting down the homework accurately and completing the homework
  • Making new friends
  • General increased reliance on personal organisational skills.

The document under 'Downloads' to the left of the page entitled 'Transitions to secondary schools' gives you hints tip and guidance that will help you during the transition.

SEND Resources and Training

The SEND Resources and Training page hosts a collection of resources, newsletters and
training opportunities. 

Pegasus Plus - A survey for parents of children on the autism spectrum

The purpose of this survey by the University College London is to find out how parents of children on the autism spectrum feel about a possible new research project. 

In this research they are trying to find better ways to support parents after their child has received an autism diagnosis.

Lots of research has shown that the parents of children with an autism diagnosis often experience high stress levels. But currently there is little known about how best to help these parents.

UCL want to see whether a support programme for parents of newly diagnosed children on the autism spectrum called PEGASUS PLUS can reduce parents’ stress and improve their wellbeing.

They will be applying for some funding to evaluate the PEGASUS PLUS programme but, before they do so, they would like some feedback from parents of children on the autism spectrum, to find out what they think about their plans.

This can help them to ensure that the research is well designed to address the needs of parents of children on the autism spectrum.

This short survey should take about 5-10 minutes of your time.

Listen or
translate