What is Autism?
Autism Spectrum Condition (ASC) is a lifelong, neurodevelopmental condition which means that features are usually present from an early age. Autism can impact on how a person communicates and interacts with other people and how they experience the world around them.
Autism is a “spectrum condition” meaning that difficulties will affect people in different ways. Difficulties may be quite subtle and autism may therefore not be diagnosed until later in life. In the UK, there are around 700,000 people on the autism spectrum (1% of the population, National Autistic Society). Autism seems to affect more men and boys than women and girls, although this may be due to autism in women and girls being more difficult to diagnose. Severe anxiety can sometimes cause similar difficulties but in anxiety it is less likely that those difficulties would have been present in and since early childhood.
What are the signs of autism?
The signs of autism will vary from person to person. To diagnose autism there should be persistent difficulties in three areas since early childhood:
Restricted and repetitive behaviors, activities, interests or routines
Diagnosis of autism needs a specialist assessment so the first thing to do is discuss a possible referral with your GP. There are rating scales available on the internet but they are not very reliable used by themselves. As the diagnosis rests on persistent difficulties since childhood, it's helpful to have parents write down what they remember and to obtain written comments from school, counsellors or teachers if possible.
Find more information on this link from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
Young people with autism may experience other difficulties too, such as anxiety, OCD, depression, ADHD and learning disabilities.
For books on girls with autism, scroll to the bottom of the page
Excellent Australian Podcast about sleep in children including an episode on "Sleeping with autism and ADHD" Find it by clicking on this link : PodCastOne :Sleep
National Autistic Society (NAS)
The leading UK charity for autism support. They provide information and support to families and professionals, and run groups in local areas https://www.autism.org.uk/ Helpline - Monday-Friday 10am-4pm 0808 800 4104
NAS Education Rights and Advice Service
Provides impartial, confidential information, advice and support on education rights and entitlements for parents and carers of pre-school and school-age children with autism to help them get the educational support their child needs. Tel. 0808 800 4102
Children with Autism: A visual schedule is a wearable picture-based scheduler designed with children and adults with autism in mind
Birdhouse for Autism offers caregivers the ability to keep track of behaviors, health and daily living tasks
Choiceworks is for helping children complete daily routines and tasks, understanding and controlling feelings and to improve their patience
I Can Have Conversations With You! is designed to help children with conversation and social skills
DayCape allows therapists, teachers, parents, and even the child themselves to set up visual schedules
National Autistic Society: What is autism?
TED talk by Rosie King- How autism freed me to be myself
Books for parents on autism
The Autistic Spectrum: A Guide for Parents and Professionals by Lorna Wing Available here
The Complete Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome by Tony Attwood Available here
Can I Tell You About Asperger Syndrome? A Guide for Friends and Family by Jude Welton Available here
Can I Tell You About Autism? A Guide for Friends and Family by Jude Welton Available here
The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida. Translated from Japanese with a very moving introduction by author David Mitchell who himself has an autistic son. This extraordinary book was written by a 13 year old severely autistic boy: he explains things like why he talks loudly or repeats the same questions, what causes him to have panic attacks, and why he likes to jump. He also shows the way he thinks and feels about his world. Highly recommended. Available here
Freaks, Geeks and Asperger Syndrome: A User Guide to Adolescence by Tony Attwood and Luke Jackson Available here
The Asperkid's (Secret) Book of Social Rules: The Handbook of Not-So-Obvious Social Guidelines for Tweens and Teens with Asperger Syndrome by Jennifer O'Toole for ages 10-17 Available here
What is Asperger syndrome and how will it affect me? by Martine Ives. A book for 8-13 year olds Available here
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nightime by Mark Haddon (a novel) Available here
Books for parents of girls with autism
Girls Growing Up on the Autism Spectrum - What Parents and Professionals Should Know About the Pre-Teen and Teenage Years by Shana Nichols with Gina Marie Moravcik and Samara Pulver Tetenbaum Available here
Books for girls and young women
M in the Middle: Secret Crushes, Mega Colossal Anxiety and the People’s Republic of Autism
by Vicky Martin Available here
Life on the Autism spectrum - a Guide for Girls and Women by Karen McKibbin Available here
The Independent Woman’s handbook for super safe living on the autistic spectrum by Robyn Steward Available here
Aspergirls: Empowering Females with Asperger Syndrome by Rudy Simone Available here
Pretending to be Normal: Living with Asperger’s Syndrome by Liane Holliday Willey Available here
Asperger's and Girls: World-Renowned Experts Join Those with Asperger's Syndrome to Resolve Issues That Girls and Women Face Every Day, by Tony Attwood Available here