Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders

What is Autism?

Autism is a Spectrum disorder, meaning there are varying degrees of its effect on individuals diagnosed as having the disorder.

Autism affects people across the whole range of intellectual abilities and also affects all nationalities and ethnic groups. One person in 100 is now said to be on the Autistic Spectrum.

After Diagnosis

The earlier a diagnosis of Autism is made, the better the chances are of a person receiving appropriate help and guidance. Specialist education and structured support go a long way to making a real difference in the life of the affected individual. People with Autism need specialised help to maximise their skills and achieve their full potential as adults.

Autism is not a label, it is a signpost, which gives access to resources, facilities, understanding and provision, which can lead to a happier, more successful life for the individual and their family.

Common Characteristics of Autism

·         Child displays indifference to people, even family members.

·         Does not respond to affection, or else displays affection indiscriminately.

·         Indicates needs by taking an adults hand.

·         Poor or no eye contact.

·         Joins in play with peers only if adult insists.

·         Does not enjoy playing with other children, prefers solitary activities.

·         Bizarre behaviour, i.e. arm and hand flapping if excited.

·         Likes to touch & smell objects and things.

·         Likes spinning objects i.e. wheels.

·         Does not like change – variety is not the spice of life.

·         Copies words and phrases as heard - known as Echolalia.

·         Severely delayed language development.

·         Lack of creative pretend play.

Above all, it is important to understand the reason for your child's behaviour is not down to you and not down to them. When they misbehave, it is usually due to lack of understanding, or frustration rather than just being naughty or difficult. Try to remain calm with your child and remove them from the situation if they are becoming difficult to control. Maintaining a routine and schedule of activities can help prepare your child for changes.

How we can help

At the Sycamore Trust, we offer a variety of clubs and programmes designed to help children, teenagers and young adults with ASD, from as young as two years old.

Look on our website for details of the Speak With A Picture project, which helps families and children of pre-school age with communication difficulties.

We also offer youth clubs for young people from the age of eight upwards, with a variety of activities designed to increase social skills, build confidence and improve self-esteem.

For help and advice, our Autism Hub in the Liberty Centre in Romford is open four days a week and offers a range of services, including our Autism Law Clinic, our adult social group and our sensory room, where children (and parents!) can relax in a calm environment if the shopping experience leads to a sensory overload.

For young adults looking for help to find work, look out for our supported employment programme.  SPACE (Supporting People with Autism into Continued Employment) aids young people looking for work.  We help with travel training, preparation of CV's and mock job interviews.

For businesses wishing to be more autism aware, we recommend our Autism Ambassadors, a group of young people on the spectrum who go into workplaces to advise on how businesses can become more autism friendly as well as delivering a presentation to staff giving examples of how a person with ASD might react in certain situations.

For any enquiries, call 020 8517 9317 or e-mail