What is autism?
Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways. Like all people, autistic people have their own strengths and challenges. Autism can be diagnosed at any age and affects males and females.
Common symptoms of autism are
- delayed or absent speech
- difficulty with; listening, concentrating and understanding
- frequent repetition of words and phrases
- taking things literally
- difficulty sensing and interpreting people’s feelings
- difficulty expressing feelings
- over or under sensitivity to sound, touch, taste, smell or light
- rituals or repetitive behaviours
- disliking changes to routine
- difficulty making friends and socialising
Signs of autism in children can be found here Click Here
The prevalence of autism in the general population in East Berkshire is estimated at 1% or 4441 people in 2020 rising to 1.5% by 2039 (6991 people). In contrast the prevalence of autism is significantly higher among those registered with vision and hearing difficulties. Source: Click Here
Autism is something you are born with or first appears when you are very young and cannot be attributed to a single cause. Evidence suggests that autism may be genetic. Autistica discuss some myths about autism here Click Here
How can I help a family member who may have autism?
This animation is a useful visualisation for young people to increase awareness of how other children and families can help them Click Here
Taking a strength-based approach and recognising a person’s support needs includes communication strategies such as help to interpret gestures, emotions, facial expressions, or body language. Speakers at the 2020 international Autism conference with lived experience of autism (Isaacs and Grandin, 2020) highlighted the importance of allowing time for meaning to be developed especially if the person learns through other senses than by sight or sound such as through smell, taste or touch.
Social interaction can be improved by taking a strength-based approach (Prenderville 2020) across a range of areas (communication, skills for self-regulation and planning, practicing taking turns, and developing a peer support group for joint problem solving).
Further ideas can be found in our workshops and short courses.
Although autism is not a mental health problem some people may also experience anxiety or depression and benefit from further support, assessment or treatment for this.
Professionals who know the child or young person, including health visitors, nursery nurses, teachers, special educational needs coordinators (SENCO), educational psychologist and GPs can refer to the autism team in Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust Click Here
Ideally, referrals should come from professionals that know the child best, such as their teacher, special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO) or health visitor.
What to expect at an autism assessment
The autism team have created a video to show parents, carers, children or young people what to expect https://www.autismberkshire.org.uk/autism-diagnosis/
Please note that the processes shown are currently being modified due to COVID19
NICE guidance for autism in children and young people explains the process and standards expected Click Here
Talking to your child about autism
The National Autistic Society have written guidance on how to talk to your child or young person about their diagnosis Click Here
Talking to your child’s school about autism
Each school must follow national guidance on the inclusion of children and young people with autism in schools and further educational settings. The National Autistic Society (NAS) has created advice for parents and carers and teachers on a range of educational topics for children and young people who have been diagnosed with autism Click Here
NAS have developed a range of evidence-based courses which are offered locally through partner charities – see the workshops section of this website.
For those needing information, advice or support for Special Educational Needs and Disabilities click on the local authority links in the further support section below
Transition from children’s services to adults’ services
Transition plans are required only in special circumstances if a young person is transitioning into adult services. The plan will be co-created with stakeholders in children and adult services and take account of the young person’s wishes and needs.
This link may help a young person understand what a transition plan is Click Here
NICE guidance on transition can be found here Click Here
The Royal College of Paediatricians also provides guidance on what a good transition plan should contain here Click Here
The following list of services and voluntary sector support groups is updated regularly, and we welcome feedback to our help desk if those listed do not meet your needs.
East Berkshire services
Autism Berkshire: an autism charity delivering specialist services, training and social and leisure activities throughout the county Click Here
Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust Autism assessment team for children and young people Click Here
Berkshire Healthcare Foundation NHS Trust Autism assessment team for adults Click Here
Parenting Special Children; provide specialist parenting support to parents and carers of children and young people with Special Needs, so that they can create positive change in their lives Click Here
The Autism Group is committed to supporting and enhancing the lives of young people on the spectrum, their parents, and carers. The group focuses on offering support and social opportunities primarily for those of secondary school age and over, together with parent support and training Click Here
Bracknell Forest Council
Bracknell Forest Council SEND Local Offer: a guide to services available for children and young people in Bracknell Forest with special educational needs and/or disabilities aged from birth to 25. Click Here
Bracknell Forest Council Information, Advice and Support Service: provides confidential and impartial advice, information and support to parents or carers and children and young people who have, or may have, Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) in Bracknell Forest.
Bracknell Forest Community Team for People with Autistic Spectrum Disorder support adults aged 18 and over with a primary diagnosis of autism Click Here
Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead (RBWM)
RBWM SEND Local Offer: provides information on local services and support available for families including children and young people aged 0 – 25 years with special educational needs or disabilities Click Here
RBWM Information, Advice and Support Service: free, impartial, and confidential information, advice and support to children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND) up to age 25, and their parents/carers. Click Here
Slough Borough Council
Slough’s Local Offer provides information about services, support and activities for children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND) aged 0-25 The service covers early years and childcare, education, health and wellbeing, care and support for families and other services in Slough Click Here
Slough SENDIASS – Information Advice and Support Service: a confidential and impartial support and advice service for parents, carers and children and young people (aged up to 25 years) on issues to do with special educational needs and disabilities Click Here
Special Voices – Slough Parent Carer Forum: raise awareness about the rights and needs of children/young people with special needs and to ensure that they and their families are consulted and involved in any decisions made during planning or developing services for them. Click Here
National links for autism
Afasic – support for families of children who have Speech Language and Communication needs, including those resulting from autism Click Here
Autism Education Trust (part of the National Autistic Society) – downloadable information for parents and carers as well as for schools and teachers Click Here
Autistica is a charity which funds research into autism Click Here
Choice Support – social care charity working across England to provide the best possible support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs Click Here
Communication Matters is a UK-wide organisation that supports people of all ages who find it hard to communicate because they have little or no clear speech Click Here
NHS Choices: Overview of Autism Click Here
National Autistic Society: the UK’s leading charity for people on the autism spectrum and their families, providing support, guidance and advice Click Here
National Autistic Taskforce: established to give autistic adults a stronger voice, especially those with the highest support needs Click Here
Neuro Diverse Self Advocacy: a not-for-profit organisation by autistic volunteers, offering an online forum and community of neurodivergent people who support each other Click Here
The Curly Hair Project: supports people on the autistic spectrum and the people around them, founded by autistic author Alis Rowe, using animated films, comic strips and diagrams Click Here
National links for disability
Cerebra – children with a brain condition: advice and support on subjects including education, Disability Living Allowance (DLA), toilet training and sleep Click Here
Choice Support – social care charity working across much of England to provide the best possible support to people with learning disabilities, autism and mental health needs Click Here
Contact – for families with disabled children: supporting families with the best possible guidance and information Click Here
Disability Law Service – free advice via information, factsheets, training courses and telephone and written advice in areas relevant to people with disabilities and their carers Click Here
IPSEA – Independent Provider of Special Education Advice: information and training on the support disabled children are legally entitled to at school, including Education Health and Care Plans (EHCPs) Click Here
Mencap – The Voice of Learning Disability: information about learning difficulties and learning disabilities related to autism, Down syndrome and other conditions Click Here
Sibs – for siblings of disabled people: Sibs aims to enhance the lives of siblings of disabled people by providing them with information and support, and by influencing service provision throughout the UK Click Here
Sunflower – Hidden Disabilities: information about Sunflower lanyards, increasingly used to discreetly indicate to people around you including staff, colleagues and health professionals that you have a hidden disability and you may need additional support, help or more time Click Here
The Continence Foundation – treatment, prevention, causes, types and living with continence issues Click Here
Ways Into Work – Supported Employment, Supported Internships, Recruitment and Workplace Support for disabled people Click Here
Mental Health links
Childline: support for children’s metal health online and by telephone Click Here
ACAMH – Association for Child and Adult Mental Health: online portal with professional seminars on topics related to autism and ADHD Click Here
Anxiety UK: supporting people with anxiety, stress, anxiety-based depression or a phobia with downloadable guides and online or helpline support Click Here
CALM – Campaign Against Living Miserably (mental health support for men): a free and confidential helpline and webchat – 7 hours a day, 7 days a week for anyone who needs to talk about life’s problems Click Here
Family Lives – supporting parents and families in crisis: family support services offered through helpline, and offering tailored support around issues such as bullying, special educational needs, and support for specific communities Click Here
Mental Health Foundation: aims to find and address the sources of mental health problems so that people and communities can thrive, to help people understand, protect and sustain their mental health Click Here
The Samaritans: 24 hours a day suicide prevention support online or by telephone Click Here
Young Minds: fighting for children and young people’s mental and emotional health. Support for parents and carers as well as young people Click Here
Mind – mental health charity: provide advice and support to empower anyone experiencing a mental health problem Click Here
Harmless – Self Harm Support: a national voluntary organisation for people who self-harm, their friends, families and professionals Click Here
Salvesen Mindroom Centre- Back to School Toolkits for children, parents and carers and teachers Click Here