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Autism Spectrum Disorder

An Introduction To Autism Spectrum Disorder

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s social and communication skills along with their interests and behaviour. It is known as a developmental disorder as it is usually diagnosed when a child is young, but diagnoses can be given at any age. ASD does not discriminate and can occur in any racial, ethnic or economic group. While Autism is a lifelong disorder, there are lots of treatments and services that can improve the symptoms.  

What Are The Main Signs of ASD?

ASD is known as a spectrum due to its wide-ranging symptoms and severity. However, these are some of the main symptoms of ASD: 

  • Finding it hard to communicate with others 
  • Difficulty in understanding how other people feel 
  • Find bright lights or loud noises stressful or overwhelming 
  • Getting anxious about new or unfamiliar situations 
  • Taking longer to understand information 
  • Repetition of behaviours. 

While these negative symptoms can impact someone with ASD, many strengths also come alongside the challenges. For a lot of people with ASD, the ability to memorise a lot of information comes very easily as they are usually very strong visual or auditory learners excelling in maths, science, music or art.  

What Are Some Helpful Strategies?

While there is no cure for ASD, there are lots of treatments that can reduce symptoms and help a person lead a happy life. In some cases, doctors can prescribe medications that can reduce stress, aggressive behaviours and hyperactivity. Doctors can also provide intensive and structured therapies which help teach basic life-skills, reduce challenging behaviours, increase strengths and increase communication skills.  

In the classroom, having a clear and established routine can be one of the most important and helpful things you can do for your students with ASD. Having clear communication with the student and their parents or guardians is also a really important step. The parents and carers of a child with autism are the true experts, and you can learn a lot by chatting to them!

What Resources Are Available? 

One of the most important things you can do is to talk with your doctor. If you’ve received a formal diagnosis, your doctor will be able to advise you on the next steps and best course of action to take. It can be helpful to record your conversations with your doctor (with their permission of course!) so you don’t forget any crucial information – there are some apps which can help (Such as Abridge) Another great tip is to keep hold of any written information you have from your doctor or health professional, this can really help an individual qualify for special programs. 

Why not try and find a local support group? There are many groups for children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and sharing your experiences can be really helpful to yourself and others.  

Where Does BehaviourWatch come into it?

BehaviourWatch is in use by SEN schools both nationally and internationally to efficiently record critical data to help institutions clearly identify patterns and answer vital questions, such as “Is pupil X’s behaviour a challenge every Monday? Does pupil X display negative behaviour during every period 4? When is pupil X showing positive behaviour? Is the library causing pupil X a challenge? Does pupil X have a challenge with a particular member of staff? What interventions are helping reduce negative behaviour? Is medication impacting behaviour?”.

Each system is custom built to match existing policies and processes to support SEN schools with all aspects of behaviour management and can include SEMH assessment, EHCPs and intervention tracking to improve outcomes.

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