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Autism is a neurotype (brain functioning style) which influences how someone:

Autistic people may have differences in their:

We live in a neurodiverse world. This means there are lots of different brain functioning styles or neurotypes. Being autistic is a form of neurodivergence. This means autistic people experience the world in a vastly different way from the neuromajority. Neuromajority is the most common brain type.

Some elements of being autistic can be challenging. This may include sensory overwhelm or difficulty regulating emotions. However, there are also many strengths that autistic people may share.

Common strengths for autistic people include:

Common difficulties for autistic people include:

The right changes and accommodations can help minimise challenges experienced by autistic people. This will allow them to feel comfortable, safe and their strengths can come to the fore. This will enable them to thrive.

There are common characteristics which allow us to identify autism. However, every autistic person is different. The autism spectrum is not linear from high to low. It varies in every way that one person might vary from another.

A lot of the above information is from a NHS East Sussex Healthcare leaflet. You can find out more by reading the leaflet online:

We also recommend watching this YouTube video on neurodiversity called Amazing Things Happen:

Please note, some services also refer to autism as:

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

PDA is widely regarded as a profile of Autism. It does not currently appear in diagnostic manuals. For this reason and for a PDA profile, NHS professionals in East Sussex do not:

However, we may assess a child for Autism who presents recognisable or reported elements of a PDA profile. If this is the case, we will describe this within the child’s assessment report.

We have created a position statement. The statement outlines this position and also aims to empower parent/carers, children and schools to:

To find out more, read the PDA East Sussex Position Statement (December 2023) PDF.

Diagnosing Autism

The NHS website outlines the steps taken in diagnosing autism. It also explains what happens during an assessment:

Waiting for an Autism Assessment or Diagnosis

Assessment and diagnosis of autism can include a long wait. It can take years to receive an assessment in East Sussex.

During this time, your child may still need support. 

Your child should receive support in their education setting based. This should depend on your child's experiences and needs. They do not need a diagnosis for this support and it does not change during the wait for assessment.

Support for your child should be ongoing and include The Graduated Approach. This is also known as Assess, Plan, Do, Review.

We have created a PDF that brings the contact information for a range of support services together in one place. It also covers common areas of concern you may have about your child’s health and wellbeing as they grow up:

Your child does not need a diagnosis or an Education, Health and Care Plan (EHCP) to access the services in this document. These services are open to you before, during and after an assessment of needs.

The NHS offer social communication and neurodevelopment support. This is for children and young people with Autism or ADHD. The child or young person does not need to have a diagnosis to access support from this pathway. 

This is a multi-disciplinary pathway. It involves:

It also includes a skill mix of therapists and integrated therapy assistants.

They deliver provision within this pathway across:

Children and young people can access this pathway from 3 years old to 18 years old. This extends to 19 if they are in full time education.

You can visit the NHS East Sussex Children website to find out more:

Additional Help and Support

Amaze Face 2 Face

Amaze are a local charity. They support families of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).

Amaze Face 2 Face runs: 

You can find out more by visiting the Amaze website:

Amaze also have a fact sheet of information relating to autism. Parents and carers can read it online:

Neurodevelopmental Pathway (NDP) Family Training and Navigation Service

Amaze also offer the NDP Family Training and Navigation Service. This service supports families at each stage along the neurodevelopmental pathway. They help to manage the challenges that children and young people face. This service is for families in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex.

The conditions covered by the NDP in East Sussex include:

Please visit the Amaze website to find out more:


CLASS+ works across East Sussex. They support families/carers of Autistic children and young people. They provide guidance and training. They enable families/carers to build:

You can learn more about CLASS+ on our directory, or on Facebook:


Spectrum is a free, county-wide service. It helps Autistic children and young people ‘aged 5–18’ to join in activities in their local community. It also allows them to:

You can find out more about Spectrum on our directory:


Amaze SENDIASS (Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Information Advice and Support Service) are a local charity. They offer free, independent, and impartial advice for all matters relating to SEND. This includes Autism. Contact Amaze SENDIASS by:

Visit the Amaze SENDIASS web page.

East Sussex Local Offer directory of services

You can visit our SEND-specific online directory, hosted on East Sussex 1Space. The directory lists many different services both throughout the county and online. Services cover many topics, including:

Visit the East Sussex Local Offer directory.

NHS - Health A to Z

The East Sussex Local Offer aims to provide as much information as possible. There may be some conditions that aren't covered in thorough detail. The NHS website has pages that list all conditions. These pages provide information and advice on how to get extra support:

Visit the NHS Health A to Z web page.

Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms

We explain some of the terms used on this website on our page, Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms.

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