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 may 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. Source: National Autistic Society
Autism is also referred to as an:
- Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
- Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Diagnosis and assessments
If you think you may have Autism and would like a diagnosis, you should talk to your General Practitioner (GP). Your GP can ask you some questions to find out how the condition is affecting you and can also refer you to Harrow Autism Diagnostic Service.
If you are diagnosed with Autism and have care and support needs you should receive a care needs assessment. If you would like to receive a care needs assessment, the organisation carrying out your diagnosis should inform the relevant department of this. If you are not offered an assessment within a reasonable amount of time, you have the right to request one.
If you have a learning disability
If you have a learning disability and think you may have autism, you can receive a diagnosis from the Central and Northwest London NHS Foundation Trust (CNWL), Learning Disabilities service. If you would like to be assessed for your social care needs you should contact Harrow Council's adult social services.
What support is available?
The agencies and organisations listed below can offer support to people with Autism and Asperger’s syndrome and their families or carers:
- The National Autistic Society - NAS is a UK charity for people with Autism and Asperger syndrome and their families. They can provide you with information and support about Autism.
- Centre for ADHD and Autism Support - a local charity that aims to support parents, carers, professionals and individuals affected by a diagnosis of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and/or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). They provide information, training, support groups and practical help.
- Harrow Association for Disabled people - HAD provides support and information to people with disabilities. Their free advocacy service can help you have your say, to take responsibility and control of the decisions that affect you.
- Harrow Mencap - Harrow Mencap work with and represent people with learning disabilities and their families and carers to ensure their needs, rights and aspirations are met.
The Autism Act 2009 committed the Government to publishing an adult Autism strategy to transform services for adults with Autism.
Fulfilling and rewarding lives: the strategy for adults with Autism in England sets out a number of key actions and recommendations for central Government as well as for local authorities, the NHS and Jobcentre.