REACH North West
Reaching their true potential
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Workshops
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Reach North West
Workshops
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Reach In The Community
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REACH North West

REACH North West is a voluntary community group that supports autistic children and their families. We create individualised support packages to meet the whole families needs.

We help children to REACH their true potential by providing services that assist children to overcome communication difficulties and barriers to learning using a multi-disciplinary approach.

In addition we also provide practical advice, information, training and build partnerships with families, school and other professionals

ABA

Applied Behaviour Analysis is an established science that goes MUCH farther than Autism. If all you know of ABA is a treatment for young children with Autism, I highly recommend you further your reading and study of the field. ABA at its core is a way to teach, manage, or reduce behaviours. ABA is an umbrella term that can cover many specific and unique strategies. Some examples include Incidental Teaching, Discrete Trial Training, and Verbal Behaviour. There are many ways to implement or carry out ABA.

ABA therapist

Describes a professional who provides ABA therapy to a learner/student, in a direct staff role. Other similar terms can include ABA tutor, ABA technician, registered behaviour technician. This person works directly with your child usually 1:1 or in small groups and is directed by the BCBA/Consultant.

ABCs ABC- antecedent, behaviour and consequence (ABC data is important to establish patterns of behaviour so that a plan of action is put in place). ABC's of behaviour is a tool used to determine the function of any behaviour (why a behaviour is happening) the A is for antecedent (what happens before the behaviour occurs), the B is the actual behaviour, and C is the consequence (what happens after).
Antecedent In behaviour analytic terms, an antecedent is simply what happened right before the behaviour.
BCBA Board Certified Behaviour Analyst This is the board certification required for a person to become a Behaviour Analyst, and it is recognised worldwide. BCBAs are recognised as being properly authorised to oversee, manage, or supervise ABA programs, they oversee your ABA tutor.
BCBA-D Board Certified Behaviour Analyst - Doctoral (BCBAs with doctoral training or a PhD in behavioural analysis; functions in the same capacity as BCBAs).
BCaBA Board Certified Assistant Behaviour Analyst the BCaBA denotes the person is at an associate level and must work under a BCBA. BCaBA's usually have less training or experience, although this isn’t always the case.

Consequence

In behaviour analytic terms, a consequence is simply what happens after the behaviour. Consequences can be good or bad (or nothing).

DTT

Discrete trial training (DTT) is a method of teaching in simplified and structured steps. Instead of teaching an entire skill in one go, the skill is broken down and "built-up" using discrete trials that teach each step one at a time with reinforcement for correct answers.

DSM

The Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders is used by a variety of professionals across the world to diagnoses or treat individuals. The DSM is basically a handy manual that catalogues all mental conditions, disorders, and syndromes and explains how to diagnose each one. It is regularly updated, and professionals reference the newest version when discussing, explaining, or understanding diagnoses.

Echoic

This is a Verbal Behaviour term. An echoic is being able to vocally imitate upon request.

Echolalia

"Echoing" or imitating what is heard, can be immediate or delayed. E.g. if you say to the learner "Want to go outside?" and they respond, "Go outside?", that is echolalia. Many individuals with Autism exhibit echolalia but engaging in echolalia does not automatically mean someone has Autism.

Elopement

Elopement is wandering, or running away, from an area the person is not supposed to leave.

ESDM Early Start Denver Model (a form of ABA combined with childhood developmental curriculum, has been well and extensively researched).

Expressive

Expressive means speaker behaviour and refers to tasks that require a vocal response such as singing or talking.

Extinction

The withholding of reinforcement for a previously reinforced behaviour, resulting in reduction of that behaviour.

Extinction burst

The increase in frequency and/or intensity of behaviour in the early stages of extinction.

FBA

Functional Behaviour Assessment. This is the process by which behavioural interventions are created. An FBA is intended to determine the function (or the reason) for a behaviour, and then create an intervention based on that function. A Functional Analysis (FA) involves manipulating the environment to understand the behaviour, while a Functional Behaviour Assessment involves things like observation, interview, and collecting ABC data.

Fine Motor Skills

These are the activities that require the coordination and movement of the smaller muscles of the body, especially those of the hand.

Generalization

Term used to describe the ability to learn a skill in one situation and be able to apply it flexibly to other similar but different situations.

Gross Motor Skills

These are the activities we do using our larger muscle groups; like sitting, walking & jumping.

Hypersensitivity

Acute reaction to sensory input (i.e. overly sensitive).

Hyposensitivity

Little or no reaction to sensory input (i.e. under-sensitive).

IEP

An Individual Education Plan is the individualized curriculum plan.

Intervention

This is the plan of action or the strategy you will use to support the child/young person. An example of an intervention is teaching a learner to use a card to request help instead of screaming.

Intraverbal

This is a Verbal Behaviour term. Basically, intraverbals are building blocks to conversation skills as its the ability to discuss, describe, or answer a question about something that isn't physically present. Like if someone asks you "What did you do on your vacation last spring?".

Main Stream

To mainstream a learner means that they can be successfully placed in a typical classroom, as opposed to a special education classroom. It also means they can perform grade level work, and have play, adaptive, motor, and cognitive abilities comparable to typically developing peers....to put it another way, they can be successful across multiple environments that are not the most restricted environments.

Mand

This is a Verbal Behaviour term. A mand is basically a " deMAND". This is being able to request something that one wants or needs.

Mouthing

This refers to when inappropriately placing items/toys, etc. in the mouth. Depending on the individual, licking items could also be considered mouthing.

MSc Currently five UK universities offer a Masters degree in ABA, this might or might not be followed by the BCBA. MScs are good at ABA, these are serious professionals. The five are: University of Kent, Uni of South Wales, Queen's Uni, Belfast, Ulster Uni, and Bangor university.
Mand Meaning a request, from deMAND or comMAND. Could be a requesting word or non-verbal communication (e.g. saying "juice" or signing juice when this drink is desired). "Manding" is the associated verb. Many VB programmes start with mand training.
NET

Natural Environment Training - where learning occurs incidentally and often playfully in natural environments, such as a local playground, or during dinner or maybe practising labelling fruits in the supermarket.

PECS

Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS):   Developed by a Behaviour Analyst and Speech and Language Therapist PECS is a form of augmentative and alternative communication. It is typically used as an aid in communication for children with autism and other special needs. Learners are taught to exchange single pictures for items or activities they really want.

PBS Positive behaviour support( PBS) is 'a person centred framework for providing long-term supportto people with a learning disability, and/or autism, including those with mental health conditions, who have, or may be at risk of developing, behavioursthat challenge.

Prompt

A form of assistance or cue given to help the learner compete a task and to increase accurate responding. There are several types of prompts: physical prompt, gestural prompt, position prompt, model prompt, verbal prompt, symbolic prompt, and visual prompt, and many more.

Prompt Dependent

Prompt dependency is when an individual has become reliant on being assisted with a task and stops attempting to do the task independently. Or it could be a learner who has been prompted to do a task a certain way so many times, that it is very difficult for them to change the way they complete the task.

PRT

Pivotal Response Teaching (PRT) is an approach to teaching individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) that involves instruction in areas that, when targeted, result in progress in numerous related areas. PRT is based on applied behaviour analysis including collecting data as a basis for decision-making and strategy implementation.

Receptive

Receptive is listener behaviour and refers to tasks that require a non-vocal action or motor response such as touch, give, or point.

Reinforcer

A reinforcer is something used to motivate a learner to complete a task or engage in a behaviour. Reinforcement can be tangible (toy), social (praise), physical (hugs, kisses), etc. In behaviour analytic terms, to be considered a reinforcer the likelihood of future occurrence of the target behaviour must increase. Remember that bribery (which isn't effective) is given before the behaviour occurs, reinforcement is given after the behaviour occurs and is completely different.

RBT

Registered Behaviour Technician; a tutor cannot be classes as a registered behaviour technician unless they have completed the 40hr RBT training.

Self-injurious behaviour (SIB)

Self-injurious behaviours are actions that an individual performs that result in physical injury to the body. Typical forms of self-injurious behaviour may include, hitting oneself with hands or other body parts, head-banging, biting oneself, picking at skin or sores, etc.

Stereotypic/Repetitive behaviours

Often referred to as “Stimming” or "Stims". These are self-initiated, often repetitive movements (e.g. rocking, vocalizations, flapping, spinning, finger-flicking, jumping etc for some individuals with Autism these behaviours can occur at very high frequencies, sometimes 100+ times per day. Individuals with Autism may engage in these behaviours for automatic reinforcement purposes, but that isn't always the case (function can vary), which is why the blanket term of "self-stimulatory behaviour/stimming" can be technically incorrect.

Shadow

Is a School Facilitator/ ABA tutor, a Shadow is someone who goes into the classroom with a child and helps that child integrate fully into the classroom environment. They are called a shadow as they step in when needed to support the learner and move back when not required, so the tutor is not velcro’d to the child and promotes independence

Tact

Naming or labelling something that is present, that you see, hear, feel, smell or taste (e.g. saying "that's a dog" when the dog is present or "I smell popcorn" if popcorn is present. It comes from the word conTACT. "Tacting" is the associated verb.

Target Behaviour

This is the behaviour of interest you are trying to increase or decrease. There may be multiple target behaviours being addressed simultaneously, as part of a comprehensive plan.

Task reduction

Reducing the demands put upon the individual in an effort to avoid or decrease frustration levels.

Transitions

May refer to changes from one activity or setting to another such as from an early childhood program to school or from a preferred play activity to a work activity. Transitions are typically very difficult for individuals with ASC, particularly unplanned or abrupt transitions.

VB

VB stands for Verbal Behaviour. Verbal Behaviour is a type of ABA based on the works of B.F. Skinner that focuses on understanding and teaching language as a behaviour and based on its function.

VB-MAPP assessment

An assessment and curriculum tool created by Dr. Sundberg. This tool focuses on verbal/language assessment to get a complete snapshot of verbal abilities, strengths, and deficits. Domains include manding, intraverbals, echoics, etc. It stands for ‘Verbal Behaviour Milestones Assessment and Placement Program’ (VB-MAPP).

Verbal vs Vocal

When people use these terms they typically mean a learner can talk to communicate. However, the behaviour analytic term for spoken communication is "vocal", not verbal. "Verbal" can be any form of communication such as sign language or gesturing, while "Vocal" is speech/vocalizations used to communicate.

Here is a quick guide to Special Educational Needs terminology.

ABA Applied Behavioural Analysis
ADHD Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
ADOS Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule
APD Auditory Processing Disorder
AR Annual Review
ARP Additional Resource(d) Provision
ASC Autistic Spectrum Condition
ASD Autistic Spectrum Disorder
Baseline Assessment A standardised teacher assessment designed to establish the attainment level of children at a significant point
Basic Skills Reading, Writing and Maths
Beacon School A school that has been identified as amongst the best performing in country and represent examples of good practice
BSP Behaviour Support Plan
CAF Central Assessment Framework
CAMHS Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service
CARS Childhood Autism Rating Scale
CDC Council for Disabled Children
CF Cystic Fibrosis
CFA Children and Families Act 2014
CHAT Comprehensive Health Assessment Tool
CI Communication and Interaction
CIN Child In Need
CL Cognition and Learning
CP Cerebral Palsy
CP Child Protection
CP Clinical Psychologist
CPR Child Protection Register
CYPS Children and and Young Persons Service
DP Direct Payments
DD Disability Discrimination
DfE Department for Education
DFG Disability Facilities Grant
DISCO Diagnostic Interview for Social and Communication Problems
DSA Disabled Student’s Allowance
DX Diagnosis
E2E Entry to Employment
EA Education Act 1996
EBD Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties
EDS Elhers Danlos Syndrome
EWO Education Welfare Officer
EP Educational Psychologist
EPS Educational Psychology Service
EFA Education Funding Agency
EHCP Education, Health and Care Plan
EOTAS Education Other Than at School
ESBD Emotional, Social and Behavioural Difficulties
ESP Early Support Programme
ESW Education Social Worker
EWO Education Welfare Officer
EYCDP Early Years Development and Childcare Plan
EYFS Early Years Foundation Stage
FE Further Education
FSM Free School Meals
GDD Global Developmental Delay
HI Hearing Impaired
IASS Information, Advice and Support Service
IBP Individual Behaviour Plan
ICP Individual Care Plan
IEP Individual Education Plan
IO Inclusion Officer
IPP Individual Pupil Profile
IPS Independent Parental Supporter
IPSEA Independent Panel for Special Educational Needs
JHS Joint Hypermobility Syndrome
JR Judicial Review
LA Local Authority
LD Learning Difficulties
LGO Local Government Ombudsman
LO Local Offer
LA Local authority
LEA Local Educational Authority
LSA Learning Support Assistant
MDT Multi-Disciplinary Team
MLD Moderate Learning Difficulties
MN Medical Needs
NC National Curriculum
NQT Newly Qualified Teacher
NVLD Non-verbal Learning Disorder
OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
ODD Oppositional Defiant Disorder
OT Occupational Therapy
OT Occupational Therapist
PB Personal Budget
PDA Pathological Demand Avoidance
PDD Pervasive Developmental Disorder
PECS Picture Exchange Communication System
PEP Personal Education Plan
PMLD Profound and Multiple Learning Disability
PP Parent Partnership
PPO Parent Partnership Officer
PT Physiotherapists
RAS Resource Allocation Assessment
RoA Records of Achievement
SA School Action
SA+ School Action Plus
SAL/SLT Speech and Language Therapy
SaLT Speech and Language Team
SEN Special Educational Needs
SENCo Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator
SLD Severe Learning Difficulties
SLD Specific Learning Disorder
SMO School Medical Officer
SPD Sensory Processing Disorder
SpLD Specific Learning Difficulties
SPM Sensory, Physical, Medical
SS Social Services
SW Social Worker
TA Teaching Assistant
TAC Team Around Child
VI Visual Impairment
VPD Visual Processing Disorder

What autism

What Is Autism

If you are searching our website, it is very likely you are a parent or carer for an autistic child or young person, you are autistic yourself or you are researching in the professional field.

As the old saying goes, “when you meet one child with Autism, you’ve just met one child with Autism.”

It is estimated that there are around 700,000 people in the UK including one in 100 1children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder. If you include their families, autism is part of daily life for 2.8 million people. Each child is different. But in general terms your child might have problems relating to other people or find it tricky to feel part of everyday life. The range of abilities, skills, brilliance and need is so different for every child on the spectrum.

Autism doesn’t just affect children- autistic children grow up to be adults.

Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone is autistic.

While autism Is lifelong and not curable, the right support at the right time can make a huge difference to people’s lives, early intervention is a must – do not wait to get the help your child may need.

Signs of Autism

Autism is tricky to diagnose before your child reaches 24 months but there might be signs in terms of some benchmarks not being met in how your little one communicates with smiles, expressions or gestures. You might also notice your child not making words by the time they turn 16 months, not responding to their name by their first birthday or loosing speech or social skills….but please don’t panic! Just contact your GP or health visitor and talk through your concerns.

When your child gets older signs of autism might include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Delayed speech
  • Getting really upset by changes in routine
  • Being seriously obsessed with certain interests like Tomas the Tank Engine or Superheroes.
  • Big reactions to sensory stimulus like smells, textures or lights.
  • Having trouble understanding other people’s feeling
  • Struggling with jokes or sarcasm
  • Really enjoying repetitive behaviours like flapping, clapping and fiddling

One of the most common difficulties is understanding and relating to other people, which has an impact on everyday life including family life, work, school and their social life. Its often difficult for a person with Autism to interpret both verbal and non-verbal language for example: Tone of voice or gestures, facial expressions, jokes, sarcasm. They also may tend to take things very literally for example they may find it hard to understand if you’re not saying exactly what you mean, or they think people mean exactly what they say, a common example of this is 'it's raining cat's and dogs' it's not but someone with Autism will not understand why you would say that if that's not actually happening.

But again, please don’t panic.

Autism is complicated. Your child’s uniqueness might be just that. On the other hand, if they are on the Autistic Spectrum, there is a lot of help out there for all of you. A diagnosis doesn’t change your child. It just makes the way you parent better informed and more effective. If you’re worried, go to your GP or Teacher and ask that your child be tested.

You can find more information on diagnosis via our Diagnosis section

Now What?

You may just have had your child’s diagnosis or be years down the line. Either way, REACH North West definitely has information you should know about. So if you’re looking for Funding & Grants, Diagnosis information, Airport or Other Travel information, Communication Courses, help with Benefits & Care, places to go and Days out, the fantastic UK Lanyard scheme, or how to Volunteer and get involved…. well, then you’ve come to the right place.

Autism is often defined and described in terms of deficits. This happens in order to determine what supports are needed, for program design and implementation, and level of funding; but always talking about what a person can’t do or do as well as their peers can have a huge impact on the child or young person and their families. Improvement can be difficult to see and small but significant gains are not celebrated. Talking about the deficits can also affect self-esteem and a person’s well-being.

We must never forget and here at REACH North West we strive to bring awareness of autism and especially the positives of autism.

It is so important that we also highlight and talk about the positive aspects of autism and stop dwelling on what is perceived to be the negative ones. The deficits will help understanding and get the support you need but do remembers autism has huge positives too. Thinking and speaking about autism in more positive terms will change thinking and responses towards someone with autism.

Here are some of the positives

  • Attention to Detail–thoroughness and accuracy around specific details is a great skill. This can be a real plus in jobs that require that skill such as quality control. Some more ideas for jobs can be found in this article by Temple Grandin.
  • Deep Focus– concentration levels can be very focused, allowing for freedom from distraction. My child can spend focused hours on an activity that he enjoys. My son can spend hrs on the computer doing presentations that are amazingly precise.
  • Observation Skills;– there is a listen, learn, look approach to learning. Facts are researched. For example, my son will watch an activity a number of times before he will join in, but when he does, he can do the task well.
  • Absorb and Retain Facts– the long-term memory is excellent with superior recall. I am always amazed at the facts my son tells me about things I said or we did years ago on a specific date or time.
  • Visual Skills– tend to be visual learners and detail focused. Temple Grandin’s book Thinking in Pictures really highlights this.
  • Expertise– there is in-depth knowledge on a topic and a high level of skills. My son can recite the whole history of Henry the 8 th, his wives and who was beheaded when where and how!
  • Methodical Approach– thought processes are analytical; can spot patterns and repetitions. Science, math and music are subjects that have patterns in them. Organizing and categorizing use these skills. My son plays the guitar once he has the pattern he is off.
  • Novel Approaches– unique thought processes and innovative solutions.
  • Creativity– a distinctive imagination and expression of ideas.
  • Tenacity and Resilience– determination and challenging opinions.
  • Accepting of Difference– less likely to judge others; may question norms. They love people for who they are.
  • Integrity– honest, loyal and committed.

Thinking about the positive aspects of autism can change the opinion of a potential employer too, open doors to new opportunities, make the community more inclusive, and change how we support people with autism at home, school, and in the community. Teach to the strength and talk to parents about their children in terms of those strengths. A positive approach will build strong relationships, which is the base for good development and quality of life. Celebrate a different way of thinking and what that can add to the world we live in – join us AND GET INVOLVED in raising awareness and change the thinking pattern about Autism!

References

1The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha, T. et al (2012). Estimating the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in adults: extending the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care

PBS

What is PBS

After starting and running my son’s PBS programme for many years and also running REACH North West this is a question I get asked all the time – What is PBS? so here is my interpritation on what is 'PBS'?

Simply put I feel PBS (Positive Behaviour Support) is something that can help whatever your targets are in life – whether that is increasing exercise, decreasing eating habits, diabetes control or Autism support – PBS can help with them all.

Your Behaviour analyst will determine what to target. this means all children have individual interventions/targets set for them. It is not generic!

Every child has targets set for them as all people are individuals!

As a parent this was a huge plus for us and my son, I would be working on his needs rather than a blanket one size fits all approach, PBS is underpinned by the Science of Behaviour Change that uses objective data to drive decision-making regarding targets. Again, simply put – through data collection a Behaviour Analyst can see if the intervention put in place is working or not (if it’s effective) – this aids quicker progression as you don’t simply ‘Wonder’ if a child can or can’t do something, the data will tell you!

This gives the evidence to the behaviourist that a programme needs review, changing or breaking down. The data also shows if the child’s intervention is working and if the child has mastered that target and needs to move on to the next.

PBS uses principles of behaviour to set up an environment in which people learn, the programmes are put in place by your behaviourist and carried out by tutors – a heavy emphasis on positive reinforcement and rewards is used using the what motivates the child – therefore creating a fun environment for your learner.

Positive reinforcement again simply is - When a target behaviour (for example - your child claps their hands) is followed by a reward, the behaviour (clapping hands) is more likely to be repeated.

REACH North West hope to bring PBS to more families in the North West.

Here is more about PBS: Underpinned by the science of Applied Behaviour Analysis, PBS is a child centred approach, it is also data driven and involves the use of certain techniques to improve socially significant behaviour and teach functional skills, by breaking down each skill into smaller steps and teaching them in a way that children with ASC can understand.

Reinforcement - Why is this important?

Reinforcement is the main principle used in order to alter behaviour, whereby desirable behaviours/skills that are reinforced are more likely to reoccur. The same applies to undesirable behaviours; if undesirable behaviours are not reinforced, they are less likely to occur in the future. When working with a child, behaviour therapists use items or other sources that are highly motivating to the child, in order to increase the likelihood that new skills and behaviours will reoccur.

Functions of behaviour – Why is this important?

As well as observing a behaviour (i.e. screaming, slamming doors, crying), PBS also takes into account the reason why a behaviour is occurring, known as the ‘Function’ of behaviour. This allows behaviour therapists to teach alternative, appropriate behaviours in order to meet this function and the child’s needs.

For example, if a child was in the supermarket and they started to cry when they passed the chocolate, this is a possible indication that they want access to chocolate. If the mother was to then give the child chocolate in order for him to stop crying, this crying behaviour is then reinforced, therefore the child may cry the next time he wants chocolate.

Behaviour therapists however would observe this behaviour and if the function was to gain access to chocolate, they would teach an alternative/socially acceptable behaviour, for example ‘I want chocolate’ if the child is verbal, When the child uses this skill, he will then be reinforced with the chocolate, which would ultimately increase the likelihood that this request "I want chocolate' would occur again. If the child is ore verbal, we could teach a method of Picture Exchange Communication (PEC’s) or use their communication devise for 'I want chocolate' in both cases replacing the crying to a functional request.

The function could however also be ‘Escape’ as the child doesn’t like the chocolate isle, therefore in this situation the behaviour therapist would teach an alternative behaviour such as ‘Can we go?’

Child centred approach

PBS focuses heavily on the child’s motivation and making learning fun for the child. A lot of skills taught can be taught naturally through play without the child realising. The skills we teach are based on each individual child’s needs, taking into account their age and current abilities.

Why do we collect data?

Data is collected in order for behaviour therapists to visually see how a child is progressing in terms of specific skills, along with whether undesirable or desirable behaviours are increasing/decreasing. Based on the data that is taken, decisions can be made as to whether a particular intervention needs to be altered, or whether the skill needs to be broken down further. For example if a desirable behaviour/skill does not appear to be increasing or improving, changes need to be made.

What Skills Can we Teach Using PBS?

The areas we target at REACH North West workshops and courses include:

  • Increasing Communication Skills
  • Toilet training
  • Group Skills
  • Play Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Reducing Barriers To Learning

What autism

What Is Autism

If you are searching our website, it is very likely you are a parent or carer for an autistic child or young person, you are autistic yourself or you are researching in the professional field.

As the old saying goes, “when you meet one child with Autism, you’ve just met one child with Autism.”

It is estimated that there are around 700,000 people in the UK including one in 100 1children with a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder. If you include their families, autism is part of daily life for 2.8 million people. Each child is different. But in general terms your child might have problems relating to other people or find it tricky to feel part of everyday life. The range of abilities, skills, brilliance and need is so different for every child on the spectrum.

Autism doesn’t just affect children- autistic children grow up to be adults.

Autism is a hidden disability – you can’t always tell if someone is autistic.

While autism Is lifelong and not curable, the right support at the right time can make a huge difference to people’s lives, early intervention is a must – do not wait to get the help your child may need.

Signs of Autism

Autism is tricky to diagnose before your child reaches 24 months but there might be signs in terms of some benchmarks not being met in how your little one communicates with smiles, expressions or gestures. You might also notice your child not making words by the time they turn 16 months, not responding to their name by their first birthday or loosing speech or social skills….but please don’t panic! Just contact your GP or health visitor and talk through your concerns.

When your child gets older signs of autism might include:

  • Avoiding eye contact
  • Delayed speech
  • Getting really upset by changes in routine
  • Being seriously obsessed with certain interests like Tomas the Tank Engine or Superheroes.
  • Big reactions to sensory stimulus like smells, textures or lights.
  • Having trouble understanding other people’s feeling
  • Struggling with jokes or sarcasm
  • Really enjoying repetitive behaviours like flapping, clapping and fiddling

One of the most common difficulties is understanding and relating to other people, which has an impact on everyday life including family life, work, school and their social life. Its often difficult for a person with Autism to interpret both verbal and non-verbal language for example: Tone of voice or gestures, facial expressions, jokes, sarcasm. They also may tend to take things very literally for example they may find it hard to understand if you’re not saying exactly what you mean, or they think people mean exactly what they say, a common example of this is 'it's raining cat's and dogs' it's not but someone with Autism will not understand why you would say that if that's not actually happening.

But again, please don’t panic.

Autism is complicated. Your child’s uniqueness might be just that. On the other hand, if they are on the Autistic Spectrum, there is a lot of help out there for all of you. A diagnosis doesn’t change your child. It just makes the way you parent better informed and more effective. If you’re worried, go to your GP or Teacher and ask that your child be tested.

You can find more information on diagnosis via our Diagnosis section

Now What?

You may just have had your child’s diagnosis or be years down the line. Either way, REACH North West definitely has information you should know about. So if you’re looking for Funding & Grants, Diagnosis information, Airport or Other Travel information, Communication Courses, help with Benefits & Care, places to go and Days out, the fantastic UK Lanyard scheme, or how to Volunteer and get involved…. well, then you’ve come to the right place.

Autism is often defined and described in terms of deficits. This happens in order to determine what supports are needed, for program design and implementation, and level of funding; but always talking about what a person can’t do or do as well as their peers can have a huge impact on the child or young person and their families. Improvement can be difficult to see and small but significant gains are not celebrated. Talking about the deficits can also affect self-esteem and a person’s well-being.

We must never forget and here at REACH North West we strive to bring awareness of autism and especially the positives of autism.

It is so important that we also highlight and talk about the positive aspects of autism and stop dwelling on what is perceived to be the negative ones. The deficits will help understanding and get the support you need but do remembers autism has huge positives too. Thinking and speaking about autism in more positive terms will change thinking and responses towards someone with autism.

Here are some of the positives

  • Attention to Detail–thoroughness and accuracy around specific details is a great skill. This can be a real plus in jobs that require that skill such as quality control. Some more ideas for jobs can be found in this article by Temple Grandin.
  • Deep Focus– concentration levels can be very focused, allowing for freedom from distraction. My child can spend focused hours on an activity that he enjoys. My son can spend hrs on the computer doing presentations that are amazingly precise.
  • Observation Skills;– there is a listen, learn, look approach to learning. Facts are researched. For example, my son will watch an activity a number of times before he will join in, but when he does, he can do the task well.
  • Absorb and Retain Facts– the long-term memory is excellent with superior recall. I am always amazed at the facts my son tells me about things I said or we did years ago on a specific date or time.
  • Visual Skills– tend to be visual learners and detail focused. Temple Grandin’s book Thinking in Pictures really highlights this.
  • Expertise– there is in-depth knowledge on a topic and a high level of skills. My son can recite the whole history of Henry the 8 th, his wives and who was beheaded when where and how!
  • Methodical Approach– thought processes are analytical; can spot patterns and repetitions. Science, math and music are subjects that have patterns in them. Organizing and categorizing use these skills. My son plays the guitar once he has the pattern he is off.
  • Novel Approaches– unique thought processes and innovative solutions.
  • Creativity– a distinctive imagination and expression of ideas.
  • Tenacity and Resilience– determination and challenging opinions.
  • Accepting of Difference– less likely to judge others; may question norms. They love people for who they are.
  • Integrity– honest, loyal and committed.

Thinking about the positive aspects of autism can change the opinion of a potential employer too, open doors to new opportunities, make the community more inclusive, and change how we support people with autism at home, school, and in the community. Teach to the strength and talk to parents about their children in terms of those strengths. A positive approach will build strong relationships, which is the base for good development and quality of life. Celebrate a different way of thinking and what that can add to the world we live in – join us AND GET INVOLVED in raising awareness and change the thinking pattern about Autism!

References

1The NHS Information Centre, Community and Mental Health Team, Brugha, T. et al (2012). Estimating the prevalence of autism spectrum conditions in adults: extending the 2007 Adult Psychiatric Morbidity Survey. Leeds: NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care

Services

REACH North West provide a range of services, for families of autistic children or other learning difficulties. Our services include training sessions, support services and our 'In-home outreach' services.

Services
Courses

Our courses are designed for both parents and children using a bespoke multi disciplinary approach. These courses have a huge impact on a child's ability to overcome many barriers and communicate effectively.

Courses
Social Icon

REACH North West hire venues and provide access to environments they otherwise may not be able to access such as bowling, lunch clubs and Santa visits. These activities allow children to socialise with peers in a safe and often differentiated environment.

Social Activities
Parents

REACH North West provide parent and carers with activities that aim to bring parent and carers together and form a network of support with those that understand. The activities include lunch clubs, get togethers and workshops.

Parents/Carers

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