Some of the conditions we work with..
Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental condition which affects an individual’s ability to communicate and interact socially with others. The National Autistic Society has produced a video with Alan Gardner (aka the Autistic Gardener) that explains the basics:
Autism varies from individual to individual – no two people are affected in exactly the same way. Because it encompasses a range of conditions and symptoms, it is referred to as a spectrum. Moderate and severe autism is usually accompanied by some degree of learning disability.
Asperger syndrome refers to a form of autism characterised by an absence of learning disability, and normal or advanced development of speech in childhood. Individuals with Asperger’s may be highly intelligent and creative, and can be found in all walks of life including the police service. (Asperger syndrome is no longer a separate diagnosis as it is now considered part of the autism spectrum, however the term is still in common use.)
Autism is not yet fully understood, and its cause is unknown, although it is believed to have a genetic basis. It is far more widespread than previously thought: at least 1 in 100, and possibly as many as 1 in 70 of the general population are estimated to be on the autism spectrum – about 1.1% of the UK population according to the 2011 census. (Source: National Autistic Society)
Dyslexia (difficulty with reading), dyspraxia (developmental coordination disorder or DCD – difficulty with body coordination) and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) are conditions that are believed to be linked to autism (although not on the autism spectrum). Many people with autism will also have a related condition (known as comorbidity). Although the symptoms are different, these conditions all affect the way the brain processes information. About 10% of the UK population are dyslexic, 4% being severely affected. (Source: British Dyslexia Association)
Depression and anxiety are conditions experienced by many autistic and neurodivergent people. Depression is a form of mental illness characterised by low mood, which can be transient (in response to life events such as bereavement), recurrent, or permanent. Its effects range from mild to debilitating – it can make working and living a normal life difficult or impossible, and in extreme cases can be life-threatening. Chronic depression and bipolar disorder (extreme mood swings between depression and mania) are caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain – drug treatments and therapies can help, but are not effective for everyone. Depressive disorders can affect anyone at any time, regardless of social status – it is estimated that nearly 20% of the UK adult population suffers from depression or anxiety. (Source: Office of National Statistics)