A Glasgow autism specialist today expressed her hopes that society is getting closer to the day when, for many people with autism, the condition will simply be seen as a developmental difference, rather than a disorder.
Speaking before national Autism Awareness Week (1-7 April) Dr Lucy Reynolds, a Consultant Paediatrician with NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, says with the right support and input a child’s life can be ‘transformed’ following an autism diagnosis.
Dr Reynolds said: “In the assessment of preschool children, we are working better at describing each individual child’s developmental profile - their strengths as well as what they find challenging - so as to support them and their families accordingly, be that with strategies to improve their communication, sleep, self care skills or to reduce the impact of sensory processing difficulties.
“Autism is talked about much more now. We are helped in explaining autism to a family, and the ways they can help, by the dramatic rise in excellent digital resources, including the National Autistic Society’s website, Scottish Autism’s “Right Click” online courses for parents of young children, teens and adults with autism (and their newer course for Women and Girls).
“There is also a host of blogs and youtube films featuring adults and children with autism spectrum conditions, including Chris Packham’s fabulous documentary “Aspergers and Me”. All of these things contribute to greater public understanding of autism, and awareness of neurodevelopmental diversity.”
The view is backed by her colleague Dr Alison Rennie who represents NHSGGC at a national level on the Scottish Government’s Children and Young People’s Mental Health Taskforce.
She said: “The taskforce has a Neurodevelopmental work stream with strong representation which is looking at the range of neurodiversity in childhood, which includes autism, acknowledging the breadth of this, promoting adaptation and acceptance within society.
“There are exciting proposals for a different service for children / young people which will include a broad based assessment of needs, identification of appropriate strategies and services, and less focus on diagnosis. A key aim will be prevention of future mental health issues and promotion of the positive contribution of neurodiversity in our society.”
To coincide with Autism Awareness Week, two fathers from Glasgow will host special events sharing their experiences of being fathers of children with autism.
Broadcaster Stuart Cosgrove and communications specialist John Hatfield will come together for ‘A conversation with fathers about autism’ events will take place on Monday 1 April at Glasgow Film Theatre and Wednesday 3 April at Eventspace, Edinburgh.
The events are the first in a series presented by Speaker Buzz, a new specialist speaker agency, which focuses on mental health, wellbeing and making a positive social, cultural and behavioural change in society.
Broadcaster, author and media personality Stuart Cosgrove will be speaking publicly for the first time about his six-year-old son’s autism diagnosis. He will be joined by John Hatfield who has a teenage son with Asperger syndrome. John is a media and communications specialist and board advisor to the National Autistic Society.
For more information, please visit: www.autism.org.uk/get-involved/world-autism-awareness-week/what-is-waaw.aspx
For further information either telephone 0141 201 4429 or email [email protected]