Autism is a lifelong developmental condition, sometimes referred to as Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). Many people with ASC will share some difficulties but it will affect them in different ways. Asperger syndrome is a form of autism.
Some people with ASC may also have other conditions This may include a learning disability or ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
• You can find detailed information about autism on the The National Autistic Society website.
• You can use the e-learning module Introduction to Autism to find out more about Autism and Asperger Syndrome.
ASC will affect people in different ways. But people with autism share four main areas of difficulty:
- Social communication – they have difficulty understanding facial expressions or tone of voice. They can take common phrases or sayings like “It's raining cats and dogs” literally.
- Social interaction – they have difficulty making friends. They do not understand the rules of social contact.
- Social imagination – they have difficulty understanding and interpreting thoughts, feelings and actions of others. They can also find it hard to predict what will happen next. This makes it challenging for them to prepare for change and plan for the future.
- Sensory processing & integration - they are likely to have difficulty in sensory processing. This is the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and turns them into appropriate responses. This affects emotions and the ability to perform certain tasks and manage behavioural and emotional responses. They may also present sensory seeking or sensory avoiding behaviour.
A diagnosis is the formal identification of autism. This will be by a health professional such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist. Having a diagnosis is helpful for two reasons:
- It helps people with autism, and their families, to understand why they may experience certain difficulties and what they can do about them.
- It enables people to access services and support.
You can find out more about diagnosis on the NHS website. Your GP can refer you to the free Hampshire Diagnostic Service.
For local groups and activities, look in our Community directory. You can search under 'Specific needs' and then 'Autism/Asperger syndrome' for activities specifically for people with autism.
Autism friendly film screenings
Dimensions UK offer autism friendly screenings at over 250 cinemas in partnership with Cineworld, Odeon, Showcase and Vue cinemas. Every month, each participating cinema shows a different film from a selection of new releases and classics including Pixar animations, Disney adventures and many more films suitable for all age ranges.
The theatre offers a number of 'relaxed performances'. They have also made a video, developed with Autism Hampshire, about a trip to the theatre.
Morrison's have introduced a 'Quieter Hour' in all their stores every Saturday for those who struggle with music and other noise. The National Autistic Society are encouraging other retailers and businesses to introduce a quiet hour.
The National Autistic Society offer specific advice on how to deal with a range of everyday activities.
Sunflower lanyard - assistance for people with hidden disabilities
A sunflower lanyard was introduced at major UK airports in 2018 in order to allow passengers with hidden disabilities to indicate discreetly to staff that they may need additional support or help. The use of the lanyard has now spread and is now available from a number of transport providers. It is also being trialled in supermarkets such as Sainsbury's and Tesco.
- See the information in our Protecting adults at risk section.
- Hampshire Safeguarding Adults Board (HSAB) has a website. This has useful information for people who may experience or be at risk of experiencing abuse, their families and carers. This includes resources and guidance about staying safe and mate crime.
- A hate crime is when someone commits a crime against you because of your disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference. Mate crime is the exploitation, abuse or theft from any vulnerable person by those they consider to be their friends. Those that commit such abuse or theft are often referred to as 'fake friends'. Mate crime is most prevalent when the victim has a mental disability and is especially common when that disability is Autism or Asperger’s.
- Hampshire police offer guidance on how to prevent and deal with hate crime or mate crime. You can also report hate crime or hate incidents to a community organisation in your area, if you do not feel comfortable contacting the police.
- Safe Place to help people with learning disabilities. It is to help if you get lost, scared or upset when you are out on your own. There are safe places around Hampshire and Southampton.
Look in our Community directory for local support and activities. You can search under 'Specific needs' and then 'Autism/Asperger syndrome' for activities specifically for people with autism.
Autism Hampshire provides a range of services for people with autism and their families. They provide the Local Autism Directory. This has local services including support groups, advocacy groups and social and leisure activities. You can also download the Spectra5 Autism Assistance app which can support you when you feel unsafe as well as helping you in your daily life.
The Hampshire Autism Partnership Board (HAPB)
The HAPB was set up in 2010, in response to the Government’s National Autism Strategy. Its role is to address the issues specific to autism in Hampshire. Fifty per cent of people with autism also have a learning disability. This can make autism harder to recognise and understand. The HAPB links closely to the work of the Hampshire Learning Disability Partnership Board.
To find out about children's support services please visit the Hampshire Local Offer website.
The National Autistic Society