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What is Autism?

 

Good question.  Autism is the term applied to a range of neurodevelopmental conditions which all affect how an individual communicates and relates to other people.  It is a fast moving field and there are many views on what autism is.  Here are some links to a range of information on autism, including the current diagnostic criteria.

http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/bluebook.pdf

http://www.psychiatry.org/practice/dsm/dsm5/online-assessment-measures

http://www.scottishautism.org/about-autism/what-is-autism/

http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism.aspx

http://www.autisminitiatives.org/about-autism/

That said, what we find at Tailor Ed is that trying to understand what autism is can be a somewhat impossible task.  Understanding each individual with autism that we meet is a much more achievable goal.  Rather than apply any particular theory of what autism is to those we meet with this diagnosis we instead follow a framework to let us profile and understand each person.

Our working definition of autism is…

Someone who has difficulty communicating and has unconventional motivations.

This is a statement that we find applies to all the people we’ve met with autism.  It also forms the basis of the model we use to allow us to understand each individual.  This model puts the individual at the centre and considers four elements that allow us to build a full profile that can then go on to inform the way we support them.

We begin by considering the individual’s motivations and find this to be one of the most important elements to understanding someone.  We need to know what they care about, what ‘makes them tick’ and why they do the things they do.  Next we consider their communication, the skills that they have and those that they don’t and how their sensory processing may be different.  Considering these four areas ensures we don’t make any assumptions about the individual that can lead to misunderstandings and problems and that we take the time to consider them fully as a person and ensure we really know and understand them. This is fundamental to being able to support their development and the challenges they may face.

We go into our model in depth during our workshop on Understanding Autism.  You can find details on upcoming training here: http://tailoredfoundation.co.uk/events/

‘What Tailor Ed did was to work WITH our family to help us understand more about autism and the motivations that may be impacting my child’s behaviour. Quite simply they were great. Our allocated project worker, let’s call her Kate, came to our home on a regular basis, 1st to get to know us a family and to learn all about our child, then to get her to do what I thought were simple tasks but these were really the building blocks of the daily living skill we were working on. This was incredibly educational for us. Only when all this was completed did we start working on the targeted skill.  The patience shown by Kate towards us and our child was quite phenomenal. We learned so much by observing how our Project Worker approached challenges, how she rewarded effort, how she moved things to a another level…the list goes on.’ Parent

 

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