Autism and Distress
Autism has no physical signs but affects the way individuals perceive and interact with the world. Neurotypical people can have difficulty with acceptance and understanding the differences an autistic person experiences. With more than 700,000 people in the UK thought of as having autism, a general understanding of the differences is essential.
Autism manifests itself in a huge number of ways leading to a condition that is as individual to each autistic person as you are individually different to this author. It is mainly public perception that has linked autism and distress. Therefore, while there are some catch all understandings around autism, the main focus should be on very individualised approaches to caring for and enabling people.
When the Training Needs Analysis highlights a need this area of care is covered in the BILD Accredited course ‘Developing Positive Relationships with Individuals in Distress’.
When working with an autistic individual who has difficulty self regulating their emotional state D.ESCAL8TM can assist staff to work more consistently gaining more understanding of autism and Distress.
Participants get an overview of the characteristics of autism and how these effect de-escalation
- Participants understand how their thinking and processing may differ from an autistic individual
- Participants understand that the individual sensory profile may highlight and inform how the person's needs should be taken into account during planning and implementation of any physical intervention
- Participants accept that their own lives have elements other people would find obsessive / ritualistic
- Participants gain an understanding of causes of autism
- Participants understand the need for sensory assessments
- Participants understand how to take into account the differences in the autistic experience in writing plans
Autism is not a single condition. Autism and distress do not automatically go together. It's actually a spectrum of conditions. These days, one in 88 children will be diagnosed with autism, over time the definition of autism has been widened. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees by difficulties, or differences from neurotypical people, in:
- social interaction
- verbal and nonverbal communication
- repetitive behaviors
However as the term is a spectrum there are huge variations in the manner it manifests and the behaviours that are experienced by autistic people in distress
Sensory differences can be a large area within the autistic condition. sensory difficulties are common and vary widely.
Autistic people can experience differences in thinking, perception and learning styles.
All of the above can be factors in an individual's ability to self regulate. This can lead to individual distress.
With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including:
- Autistic disorder
- Childhood disintegrative disorder
- Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)
- Asperger syndrome In the UK ICD-10 is mainly used for diagnosis which still has the separate diagnoses.
What does cause autism?
In fact, there's probably not one single answer. However today there is a widely held understanding that autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder with a biological basis. It seems to be mostly genetics - although it is not crystal clear so we cannot just run a genetic test!