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Autism and Autistic Spectrum Condition

Group of parents with their children all having a meeting

What Is Autism?

Autism is something you're born with and 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 and may find some difficulty with some or all of the below:

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, so 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:

While people with autism share similar characteristics to some degree, they are also all 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 strengths, differences and needs, their own life journey and their own unique story.

You can watch a 4-minute video on YouTube, which briefly explains some aspects of autism, by clicking the link below:

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) is as a way of describing a range of anxiety-driven behaviours where a child or young person often seeks to avoid everyday seemingly reasonable requests because they trigger anxiety.

PDA does not appear as a separate diagnostic condition in nationally and internationally 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.

To learn more about PDA and to find out what help is available, click the link below:

Diagnosing Autism

The NHS website outlines the steps taken in diagnosing autism and explains what happens during an autism assessment. You can find out more by visiting their website:

Waiting for an Autism Assessment or Diagnosis

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

During this time, your child may still require support. 

It is important to note that while having a diagnosis of autism may be helpful, your child is entitled to support in their educational setting (preschool, school, or college) based on their experiences and needs. This does not change during the wait for assessment. 

Support for your child should be ongoing and include the graduated approach (assess, plan, do review). To find out more, visit our page on:

We have created a document that brings the contact information for a range of support services together in one place, for common areas of concern you may have about your child’s health and wellbeing as they grow up. You can find this document by clicking the link below:

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.

Additional Help and Services

Amaze (a local charity that supports SEND) runs groups for parents and carers of children with autism called Kids Squad and Escape:

"Amaze Face 2 Face runs Kids Squad – for parent carers of children with ASC up to 10 years old and Escape – for parent carers of children aged 11+. Contact Kathy, Face 2 Face project worker: via email:".

Click the link below to visit their website:

Amaze also have a face sheet of information relating to autism that parents and carers can read online:

Communication, Learning and Autism Support Service (CLASS)

CLASS offers support, advice, guidance and training to schools. They work with other ISEND services to support children and young people to successfully access full time education.

For information see their details on our directory:


CLASS+ is a East Sussex County Council service offered to families with children (5-16) with autism. The service offers telephone advice and guidance, coffee mornings, workshops and short-term support at home. 

For information see their details on our directory:


Spectrum is a free, county-wide service that helps children and young people with Autism ‘aged 5–18’ to join in activities in their local community, develop their independence and build confidence in developing key life skills. It is part of ISEND’s Communication, Learning and Autism Support Service (CLASS).

For more information see their details on our directory:

1Space Directory

Our directory on East Sussex 1Space provides various services, including some that aim to help those with autism:

All services on 1Space have been split into categories. Once you have selected the category that you wish to visit, you can then use the filters on the left hand side to further refine your search, depending on need. To find out more on how to use 1Space, please click the link below:

Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms

Some of the terms used on this website are explained on our page, 'Glossary of East Sussex SEND Terms':

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