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. Below you’ll find links to a range of information on autism, including the current diagnostic criteria.
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.
You may notice that we use identity first language when talking about autism, respecting the consensus in the autistic community that this is their preference. A core value of Tailor Ed is to see everyone as an individual and respect their views and therefore we are equally happy to adapt to and use terminology families and individuals feel comfortable with.
Our working definition of autism
Someone who has differences in how they communicate and motivations others may find unconventional.
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.