Autistic Spectrum Disorders

The ASD Team provide a supported employment service to people on the Autistic Spectrum including Asperger Syndrome.

Asperger Syndrome is at the high end of the Autistic Spectrum. It is estimated that there are approximately 403,000 people with Asperger syndrome in the UK (NAS, 1998). In the Lothians there are approximately 4,750 people who have an autistic spectrum disorder and 1,567 of them have Asperger Syndrome.

Over the last decade there has been a large increase in the number of people being diagnosed with this condition but there are few services for people with this disability.

Asperger Syndrome - did you know....?

  • Asperger syndrome is a form of autism - placed at the high functioning end of the autistic spectrum.
  • Asperger syndrome may effect a person's social interaction, comprehension of communication and imaginative ability.
  • People with Asperger syndrome may find it difficult to interpret other people's behaviour and understand exactly how to act in different Social situations.
  • People with Asperger syndrome may have rigid thinking and obsessive interests
  • People with Asperger syndrome are highly individual and many have above average intellectual ability.

The main challenges faced by people with Asperger Syndrome are in the areas of:

As soon as we meet a person we make all sorts of judgements. Just by looking we can often guess their age or status, and by the expression on their face or the tone of their voice we can tell immediately whether they are happy, angry or sad and so respond accordingly. But not everyone does this naturally. People with Asperger Syndrome find it difficult to read the signals which most of us take for granted. As a result they find it hard to communicate and interact with others.

Communication Issues

A person with Asperger Syndrome may find it difficult to interpret what to say to people. They may not fully understand accepted rules of conversation i.e. judging when it is appropriate to pause and listen, they may say or do inappropriate things. Sometimes this can be mistaken for rudeness.

People with Asperger Syndrome do not pick up signals in a way that most people take for granted. They find It difficult to pick up on signals that most people use as an every day language using their eyes, and body language. It can be very hard to tell exactly when someone is joking - especially as so many gestures (like smiling, or rolling your eyes which help you to fully understand what someone means) can be hard to understand. There are so many cues used in social communication, it is hard to list them all, but they can sometimes be just as important as talking.

Social Relationships

Interpreting other people's intentions or understanding their behaviour does not come easily to people with Asperger Syndrome. This causes difficulty with two way social relationship. This is seen as an inability to interact with peers or an apparent lack of desire to interact with them.

There may be a lack of appreciation of social cues (such as knowing when another person wants to have his say in a conversation).

Imaginative Ability

This is concerned with the person's interests and routines. Generally speaking, these are restricted and repetitive. People may find it difficult to think in abstract ways and therefore have a rather literal understanding of the world. They may also rely on routine and sameness in their lives to the point where if this is unexpectedly interrupted they may become anxious.

Innovation

The project exhibits innovative features in a number of areas and activities, including -

  • Development of client specific Rickter Scale Assessment
  • Introduction of Social Skills Group
  • Provision of information for parents/carers/partners
  • Provision of information for employers
  • Participation with schools for Future Needs Assessment for potential clients with Asperger Syndrome

Outcomes:

  • Improved social skills
  • Improved communications skills
  • Positive emotional development
  • Increased confidence and job readiness
  • Enhanced awareness of ASD

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