What support is available for children with autism/autistic spectrum disorder (ASD)?
The difficulties connected with an autistic spectrum disorder are lifelong. However, it is clear that what parents/carers, teachers and others who work with young children do in the early years has a great impact on the child’s future. Early intervention in the areas of social understanding, language and communication are key. When parents/carers and professionals work closely together they produce the best results.
You might choose to talk to any of the following people who you have found helpful:
- your family doctor
- health visitor
- nursery, pre-school or school staff.
They can advise you about who else to talk to to help clarify your child’s needs and what assessments are necessary. This may include talking to a speech and language therapist, a paediatrician or a clinical or educational psychologist. It is important your concerns are listened-to and taken seriously.
Assessments describe the development of your child over a period of time and help to clarify not only his/her needs but also the best ways of helping him/her learn. The people involved may work for health, education or voluntary bodies. The assessment is most effective when everyone works together with you as parents/carers.
Over the years Hampshire County Council has developed a wide range of services aimed at enhancing the learning and development of young children with autistic spectrum disorders. Many aim to build on the skills of parents/carers, increasing their confidence in meeting the needs of their child at home.
For younger children and pre-school aged children Hampshire offers :
- The National Autistic Society’s (NAS) EarlyBird Programme – a three-month programme for the parents/carers of pre-school children with an autistic spectrum disorder.
- The Portage home visiting service – a weekly early education service offered in the home in which parents and the Portage home visitor work together to develop the child’s skills.
- The Hampshire Outline for Meeting the needs of the under five’s on the Autistic Spectrum (THOMAS) training – four days of education and training with additional ongoing support for anyone living or working with the under fives on the autistic spectrum.
- The THOMAS Outreach Project (TOP) – a service delivered to children with an autistic spectrum disorder in their home or their pre-school or in their first term of school. TOP offers 5 – 15 hours weekly per child, in close partnership with parents/carers.
- Nursery places in mainstream and special school settings and support for children to attend a local pre-school.
For school-aged children Hampshire offers:
- provision for children with autistic spectrum disorders in both mainstream and specialist settings
- extended training courses for teachers and support assistants to enable them to meet the needs of children with autistic spectrum disorders
- specialist outreach support for schools which have children with autistic spectrum disorders
- specialist educational psychologists and special needs inspectors who can provide advice to schools
- local support groups for school staff to problem-solve issues about how best to meet children’s needs
- some local groups for parents.
Parents have shown that they value what Hampshire offers. The following quotes reflect their feelings.
“I have benefited from EarlyBird and THOMAS. It’s been great to learn from other parents”.
“TOP has been wonderful. We didn’t have to fight for anything. It was just there”.