Autism and Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
Autism / Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC) is something some people are born with. It is a lifelong neurological spectrum condition that means their brain works in a different way from other people. This means that people with autism experience the world in different ways. They may find some difficulty with some or all of the below:
- Social communication
- Social interaction
- Repetitive behaviour
- Sensory processing and sensory integration
They may also have an associated learning difficulty.
People with autism may have differences in their attention, interests and how they learn. This can include being very focused on particular interests. They can have a different way of being flexible. They can often feel safer and more comfortable with routines and structure as this lessens uncertainty.
People with autism all have very different experiences and needs as well as different strengths. Some of these strengths could be:
- Excellent pattern spotting
- Direct communication styles
- Visual thinking skills
- Good long term memory
- Detail orientated
- Hyperlexia (meaning a child can learn to read early and quickly)
While people with autism share similar characteristics to some degree, they can also be different from each other. This is because autism is considered a spectrum. The autism spectrum is not linear from high to low but varies in every way that one person might vary from another.
There is no ‘typical’ person with autism. Every individual with autism has their own:
- life journey
- unique story
You can watch a 4-minute, Amazing Things Can Happen video on YouTube. The video explains some aspects of autism:
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)
Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is as a way of describing a range of anxiety-driven behaviours. This is where a child or young person often seeks to avoid every day, seemingly reasonable requests because they trigger anxiety.
PDA does not appear as a separate diagnostic condition. This is the case with national and international recognised diagnostic manuals. For this reason, NHS professionals in East Sussex do not make this separate diagnosis. However, for a child who has been assessed as being on the autism spectrum and presents with a PDA profile, this will be recognised and described within the child’s assessment report and diagnosis.
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 on their 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 (Assess, Plan, Do, Review).
We have created a document that brings the contact information for a range of support services together in one place. It highlights 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 Speech and Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy. It also includes a skill mix of therapists and integrated therapy assistants.
They deliver provision within this pathway across:
- Workshops for parents and professionals
- Individual sessions (including telehealth)
- Group sessions
Children and young people can access this pathway from 3 years old to 18 years old (or up to 19 if 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 that support families of children and young people with Special Educational Needs and Disabilities (SEND).
Amaze Face 2 Face runs:
- Kids Squad – for parent carers of children with Autism up to 10 years old
- Escape – for parent carers of children aged 11+
You can find out more by visiting the Amaze website:
Amaze also have a face sheet of information relating to autism that parents and carers can read 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:
- Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC)
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and
- Tics/Tourette Syndrome
Please visit the Amaze website to find out more:
CLASS+ works across East Sussex to support families/carers of Autistic children and young people. They provide guidance and training. This aims to enable families/carers to build their understanding of the strengths and challenges faced by Autistic children and young people. It also aims to develop greater confidence in how to support them:
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 develop their independence and build confidence in developing key life skills:
- Find out more about Spectrum on 1Space
- View Spectrum service terms and conditions
- View the Spectrum referral form | East Sussex County Council
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:
- Advice, Guidance and Support Groups
- Activities and Events
- Mental Health and Wellbeing Support
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.