According to the National Autistic Society approximately 1% of the population, (that’s 700,000 people), are on the autism spectrum in the UK. If you include families, autism is part of the daily life of 2.8 million people. Shropshire County currently have approximately 3,500 people recorded as being on the autistic spectrum. Therefore, you are not alone. This webpage has been designed to help and support you and provide information and advice that may be available elsewhere. If that is the case, we will signpost you to the relevant information.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be 'cured'. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.
Find out how many people are autistic, how autistic people see the world, how autism is diagnosed, and how you can help”.
Select this link for the easy-read version.” (From National Autistic Society 2020)
There are many different ways a person can be affected by ASD. Males and females frequently present differently. The four main areas of difficulty are:
- Social interaction (difficulty with social relationships)
- Social communication (difficulty with verbal and non-verbal communication)
- Social imagination (repetitive behaviour and/or difficulty predicting outcomes or other people’s reactions)
- Sensory difficulties - people with autism may experience over or under sensitivity to sounds, touch, tastes, smells, light or colours.
Autism is a lifelong neuro-developmental disability. The exact cause of autism is not known. According to the National Autistic Society (NAS), there is strong evidence to suggest autism can be caused by a variety of factors which lead to the brain developing differently. There is also evidence to suggest genetic factors play a role and these genetic factors can be passed from parents to children. What we do know is autism is not caused by the way children are parented. Studies have also shown that vaccines like MMR do not cause autism. Because it is not an illness or a disease it, therefore, cannot be 'cured'.
Being autistic can bring with it special abilities or gifts as well as difficulties so people often feel that being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity.
Legislation and Statutory Guidance
There is a range of Legislation and Statutory Guidance on autism:
Autism Act (2009) the only disability-specific law in England
Equality Act (2010) - employers must make reasonable adjustments to avoid disadvantage to a disabled person
Think Autism (2014) revised strategy from 2009 Act
Care Act (2014) autism is the only condition requiring specialism
Transforming Care (2015) to move people with autism or learning disability out of hospital settings
Think Autism Strategy Governance Refresh (2018) revising strategy into 5 domains:
- Measuring, understanding and reporting needs of autistic people:
- Workforce development:
- Health, care and wellbeing:
- Specific support:
- Participation in local community
National Autism Strategy – due to be released 2020
Conditions that come under the autism spectrum
Over the years, many different diagnostic labels have been used, such as autism, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), autism spectrum condition (ASC), classic autism, Kanner autism, pervasive developmental disorder (PDD), high-functioning autism (HFA), Asperger syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA). This reflects the different diagnostic manuals and tools used and the different autism profiles presented by individuals. Because of recent and upcoming changes to the main diagnostic manuals, 'autism spectrum disorder' (ASD) is now likely to become the most commonly given diagnostic.
Why a spectrum?
Autistic people can be so different from each other that we think about autism as a spectrum, rather like a rainbow. Autism can affect anyone whatever their abilities, but all autistic people share the social and sensory difficulties mentioned earlier. Being autistic will affect each of them in different ways. There is no such thing as a ”typical” autistic person and this is why people and behaviours that are NOT autistic are known as “neuro-typical”
Remember - When you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.
Asperger Syndrome is a presentation of autism that describes people of average or above average intelligence who seem to have fewer problems with communication but still have difficulties with understanding and processing language. Some autistic people are affected by the additional complications of specific learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions. All of these different elements mean that everyone on the spectrum will need some level of support depending on their individual needs. With the right sort of support, all can reach their optimum outcome.
There are many positive traits common to autistic people such as honesty, loyalty, attention to detail, original thinking, and good understanding of systems. As we understand more, we are seeing how autistic people have excelled in many fields including sport, music, arts and science.
Some people have great skills, ability and knowledge in subjects that interest them but struggle with everyday tasks like crossing a road, planning a meal or managing a new journey on public transport.
Interests and routines
Some people have a small range of, often solitary, activities which absorb them. Many people like predictability and have set routines. Change, especially if not planned, frequently causes anxiety. Unstructured time, like holidays, can be stressful. Some people find making decisions and choices difficult. People may also have very fixed ideas and struggle to think about things in different ways or to acknowledge that other people have a right to different opinions.
What are the characteristics of ASD?
The characteristics of autism are different from one person to another. But, for a diagnosis to be made, a person will usually be assessed as having persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction and will show restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviour or interest. Below are some of the characteristics shown by children and adults with autism:
0-4 years (Pre-school children)
- delayed speech development (for example speaking less than 50 different words by the age of two), or not speaking at all
- not responding to their name being called, despite having normal hearing
- rejecting cuddles initiated by a parent or carer (although they may initiate cuddles themselves)
- avoiding eye contact
- repetitive movements (such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or flicking their fingers)
- playing with toys in a repetitive and/or unimaginative way (for example, lining blocks up in order of size or colour, rather than using them to build something)
5-16 years (School aged children)
- avoiding eye contact or using spoken language
- seeming to talk "at" people, rather than sharing a two-way conversation
- taking people’s speech literally and not understanding sarcasm, metaphors or figures of speech
- not being aware of other people’s personal space, or feeling extremely uncomfortable with people entering their own personal space
- little interest in interacting with other people, or having few close friends, despite attempts to form friendships
- rarely using gestures or facial expressions when communicating
- repetitive movements (such as flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or flicking their fingers)
- playing in a repetitive and unimaginative way, often preferring to play with objects rather than people
- developing a specific interest in a particular subject or activity
- preferring to have a routine and getting very upset if there are changes to their normal routine
Some people with autism go through life without a diagnosis, but often feel they don't quite fit in and learn how to cope with life in their own way. However, an increasing number of people are diagnosed with autism in their teenage years or adulthood, often in relation to learning, social or emotional difficulties. For example, an individual might experience:
- difficulty using and understanding verbal and non-verbal language (such as gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice, as well as jokes and sarcasm)
- difficulty recognising and understanding people’s feelings and managing their own
- difficulty understanding and predicting other people’s intentions and behaviour
You can find out more about the different characteristics of autism on the National Autistic Society, Autism Speaks and NHS websites. If you are concerned about your child’s development, notice any of the signs of ASD in your child, yourself or adult, speak to your GP or health visitor for more information.
How will I know if a person is autistic?
You probably will not be able to tell just by looking
“The outward appearance of autistic traits should not be the measure of the degree to which a person is autistic”
An autistic person may have any job or profession.
People may keep their autism private for fear of prejudice and lack of understanding.
It’s important to remember that a number of autistic people may also have a specific learning or cognitive disability. Some people may need care and support 24 hours a day.
If you would like to talk to anyone regarding Autism please contact us on: 0345 678 9044 or email email@example.com
We have put together some links which you may find helpful:
Local organisations (volunteer, statutory and private) offering advice and support to families
Autism West Midlands
In Shropshire we have an autism development team which works with families/carers and professionals working with children with autism aged 0-18 years. This service is funded by Shropshire Council and Shropshire PCT, and is free to families and professionals working with children in the Shropshire Council area. For families and carers we offer information, guidance and support by appointment at advice sessions around the county and targeted intervention/support where appropriate. Families should in the first instance contact the Autism West Midlands Information helpline, for a referral to our Shropshire team. The helpline can also register you on our Shropshire mailing list for details of other Shropshire autism events including:
- Rising to the Challenge parent workshops and other workshops and conferences
- Family events during the school holidays
For professionals we offer:
- Autism awareness training and other training tailored to particular service needs
- Joint work with service development
- Participation in strategic developments in Shropshire
Telephone: 01743 210940
General enquiries: 0121 450 7582
Helpline: 0303 0300 111
A free Shropshire based self-help and social group for young people (18 and over) and adults who have Asperger's syndrome (AS), (diagnosed or undiagnosed). Young people aged 16-18 can attend the Board Games Club with an adult to support him/her.
- Opportunities to meet others with Asperger's syndrome
- Telephone advice and support (for people with AS and/or their parents. partners/carers)
- Friendship and understanding
- Social events and activities
- A free bi-monthly newsletter by mail or email
A range of charged-for Autonomy Plus+ services including consultancy, awareness training, mentoring, help with claiming benefits, pre- and post- diagnostic support and professional help.
Shropshire Autism Hub
Friendly helpful advice on everything autism. Thursday 12pm - 4pm free drop-in, carers and family members are welcome. This hub is for people on the autism spectrum, including those with Asperger's syndrome. The hub will be available every Thursday from midday until 4pm. Come along and see us at Louise House, Roman Road, Meole Brace, Shrewsbury for a chat and an opportunity to socialise with others. Friendly advice and refreshments will be available.
Provides assessment, information, guidance and support to mainstream schools in Shropshire for pupils with needs related to the autism spectrum. Our team consists of autism spectrum advisory teachers and a specialist practitioner. The following advice and support is available for purchase from the Autism Spectrum Advisory Support Team.
Whole school strategic support relating to the autism spectrum
- Supporting schools in carrying out an ‘Evaluation of Current Practice in Relation to the Autism Spectrum’ to enable the school to enhance their current practice
- Supporting schools in carrying out a ‘Sensory Audit’ of the school environment to help meet the needs of pupils with sensory sensitivities.
- Supporting schools in implementing provision mapping for children on the Autism Spectrum
- Supporting identified Key Workers for children on the Autism Spectrum in developing their role
- Supporting the SENCo in matters related to the Autism Spectrum
- Advice on supporting pupils on the Autism Spectrum during transition times and unstructured times (break times, lunchtimes, homework clubs & extra-curricular activities)
- Meeting with the senior leadership team and/or school governors to discuss matters in relation to the Autism Spectrum 3 Autism
- Awareness raising sessions about the Autism Spectrum for mainstream pupils. This may include small groups of pupils, whole classes, tutor groups, year groups or other groups as requested
Individual support for children on the autism spectrum or with needs related to the autism spectrum
- Provide individual case support through observations, one to one work and feedback
- Develop pupils’ social interaction skills through social skills groups, comic strip work, social stories and other approaches
- Develop pupils’ awareness of their own emotions and the emotions of others. This may be within social skills groups or may be through a series of individual support sessions
- Provide sample resources for use with individual pupils (timetables, key rings, cue cards, reward systems, emotion monitors and other visual support approaches)
- Carry out ‘Stressor Assessments’ for individual pupils and provide feedback
- Attend Annual Reviews, Early Intervention or other meetings related to the child, provided that sufficient notice is given
- Provide individual reports following an initial period of assessment or intervention package
- Provide individual reports as part of an application for Statutory Assessment or as part of the annual review process
- Monitor and review pupils at SA+ and with a Statement
- Provide advice in relation to IEPs
- Provide advice, strategies and individual support sessions in relation to behavioural issues
- Support pupils in understanding their Autism Spectrum diagnosis
- Liaise with other agencies
- Liaise with signpost, support and advise parents
- Meeting parents and/or carers
- Supporting pupils with transitions between year groups or schools; e.g. Year 6 to Year 7.
Shropshire Disability Network
The SDN was formed in 2008 to provide a powerful collective voice for disabled people across Shropshire. SDN holds quarterly open meetings (which are open to guests) to discuss current disability issues in Shropshire, and periodically releases an extensive newsletter of events and information. You can join the SDN as a full member to be kept up to date with what’s going on. Membership is free. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Autism West Midlands Connect
An online social network built for people with autism, their families and professionals. The idea was to bring together the unique experiences of each individual in the autism world and allow them to share their thoughts, ideas and stories with others. We hope that this will help people to understand the perspective of other members of the autism community; professionals learning from parents, parents learning from adults with autism and so on.
Connect is aimed at adults and adolescents but usage depends on a person’s level of understanding and ability. The site seeks to reduce the vulnerability of users with several safety features. We constantly monitor the site and moderate the content to ensure it remains suitable. We also have an extensive site guide and code of conduct so people can use the site without prior knowledge of social networking sites.
We also have a lenient complaints procedure, with an emphasis on benefit of the doubt, and procedures in place to mediate and explain, rather than to judge or to punish. We do, however, have a zero tolerance approach to bullying or abuse.
The site itself offers users a truly social experience, with status updates, member profiles and family pages. Users can also like and share statuses, comment on them and even send a hug when someone needs a bit of cheering up. There is also a question and answer section where the variety of experience of users comes into its own, with experts in various areas offering advice and guidance to others - be they parents, professionals or adults with autism. The Service Directory also offers a chance for users to share knowledge and rate and review services they have used.
Finally, the events page is a catalogue of great events running that parents can search for by area. We also have information resources, visual resources and high quality e-learning packages all available free of charge.
- Telephone: 0121 450 7582
- Email: email@example.com
A group of parents and carers of children with disabilities or additional needs including:
- Physical disabilities
- Medical conditions
- Psychological conditions
- Learning difficulties
Aims to make parents and carers aware of developments that affect their children and to give them a voice in influencing these developments.
- Telephone: 0845 601 2205
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Oasis Group - Parent and Carer Council Shropshire
PACC supports a number of OASIS support groups which any parent of a child with a disability or additional need is welcome to attend. The meetings provide an opportunity for parent/carers to meet each other and to share their experiences. We are currently hosting a daytime meeting in Shrewsbury on a monthly basis at the Shrewsbury Baptist Church. These are held on a Monday between 10am and midday. Tea, coffee and biscuits are available, as well as the PACC library to borrow from. There is an evening meeting held at Monkhouse Granary, nr. Battlefield, Shrewsbury. This meeting is held monthly on a Wednesday evening between 8pm and 10pm.
- Telephone: 0845 601 2205
- Email: email@example.com
Information, Advice and Support Service for Shropshire (previously Parent Partnership Service)
From 1st October 2015 all clients receiving support from the Information, Advice and Support Service and living in Shropshire were transferred to a new provider, Citizens Advice Shropshire. You may have known this service as the Parent Partnership Service based in Telford & Wrekin CVS. The service will be known as Shropshire Information, Advice and Support Service (Shropshire IASS). Shropshire IASS will act as a point of contact for parents and carers of children and for young people aged up to 25 who have SEND or related health and social care needs. The service provides:
- Impartial information and advice about matters relating to special educational needs (SEN) or disabilities (D), including matters relating to health and social care and advice and support on the take up and management of Personal Budgets.
- Children and their parent/carers and young people with the information and support to enable them to participate in decisions about their individual support.
You can contact Shropshire IASS on 01743 280019. The referral line is staffed Monday to Friday 10am till 4pm, and Citizens Advice Shropshire on 03444 99 11 00, or call in at one of their offices in Ludlow, Oswestry and Shrewsbury (Telephone: 01743 280019)
Parents Supporting Parents
Parents Supporting Parents is a volunteer-led peer-to-peer support group, based in Bayston Hill in Shrewsbury, for parents of children with any additional needs or SEND. It offers support, guidance, signposting, information and regular talks and workshops to inform and enable members. Members also meet socially and at organised family activities.
Contact Jeannette Griffiths as follows:
This guide provides a brief overview of the sorts of mental health problems children with autism may experience; information and advice on preventing and reducing mental health problems and promoting emotional wellbeing.
All In offers fun, friends and activities for children and young people with disabilities or additional needs. The ‘All In’ programme provides different opportunities for children/young people with different needs. Some activities may not be suitable for every child/young person. Children need to apply to become a member before they can attend activities. Application forms can be found online.
Cineworld, Old Potts Way, Shrewsbury, SY3 7ET, hosts an autism- friendly screening at 11am on the first Sunday of every month.
From September 2014, local authorities have been obliged to publish a Local Offer, setting out in one place information and provision they expect to be available across education, health and social care for children and young people in their area who have SEN or who are disabled, including those who do not have education, health, and care (EHC) plans.
In setting out what they ‘expect to be available’, local authorities should include provision which they believe will actually be available (SEND Code of Practice 4.1) Our Local Offer is designed to help families, children, young people and professionals to support those with special educational needs or disabilities to find accurate and appropriate information so that they can make positive decisions about their lives.
National organisations offering advice and support to families
We are the national charity for children and young people with autism. We provide services, raise awareness and understanding, and campaign for change. Our vision is to make the ordinary possible for children and young people with autism and our mission is to help them to learn, thrive and achieve.
We're the leading UK charity for people on the autism spectrum (including Asperger syndrome) and their families. We provide information, support and pioneering services, and campaign for a better world for people with autism.
Child Autism UK
Child Autism UK is a UK national charity that provides information and support to parents of children with autism to give better choice. Child Autism UK advocates the use of early behavioural intervention programmes (applied behaviour analysis). These programmes aim to enhance intellectual, academic, social and emotional behaviours so that children can take better advantage of opportunities available to them.
- Telephone 01344 882248
- Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Early Bird Plus
Early Bird Plus is for parents whose child has received a later diagnosis of an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and is aged 4-8 and in Early Years or Key Stage One provision. The programme addresses the needs of both home and school settings by training parents/carers together with a professional who is working regularly with their child, the aim being that a child will be given consistent support. We work to build both parents' and professionals' confidence and encourage them to problem solve together.
- Tel: 01226 779218
- Email: email@example.com
Are you worried your child may have autism or Asperger syndrome? Or has your child been diagnosed with autism or Asperger syndrome and you are wondering what to do next? YoungMinds is here to help and support you. YoungMinds is the UK’s leading charity committed to improving the emotional wellbeing and mental health of children and young people. Driven by their experiences they campaign, research and influence policy and practice. They have information about the symptoms, diagnosis and help available for autism and Asperger syndrome, especially for parents and carers, with links to other organisations who can help. They’re also here to listen. If you want to talk to someone in confidence about your worries, you can contact the YoungMinds Parents' Helpline for free on 0808 802 5544. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Patient info – autism pages
Patient is the web’s leading independent health platform, established for over 15 years. With more than 18 million visits a month, it is a trusted source of information for both patients and health professionals across the globe. The site contains over 4000 health information leaflets, a wellbeing centre, a free health check, and thousands of discussion forums. It is accredited by The Information Standard and NHS England’s quality mark.
NHS Choices – Autism Pages
NHS Choices is the UK’s biggest health website. It provides a comprehensive health information service to help put you in control of your healthcare. The website helps you make choices about your health, from decisions about your lifestyle, such as smoking, drinking and exercise, to finding and using NHS services in England.
Research Autism is the only UK charity dedicated to the promotion of high-quality research into autism treatments, therapies and other approaches. Our vision is of a world in which people on the autism spectrum are no longer excluded, and where they and their families are able to enjoy a good quality of life.
- Telephone 020 3490 3091
- Email email@example.com
Autism Education Trust
The Autism Education Trust believes that all children and young people with autism should receive an education which enables them to reach their individual potential to engage in society as active citizens (and that individuals, families and professionals are informed, supported and equipped to enable this to be achieved). The Autism Education Trust is dedicated to coordinating, supporting and promoting effective education practice for all children and young people on the autism spectrum.
Our network of 18 autism charities supports many thousands of adults and children with autism across the UK. In the UK, more than 1 in 100 people with autism risk being excluded from their own communities because they are misunderstood. We want to use our knowledge and understanding to build autism-friendly communities, raise general awareness of autism and provide quality information.
ASD Friendly is a close-knit online community forum of parents and carers of people with autism and Asperger's syndrome. ASD Friendly comes together to share tips, vent frustrations and generally have a laugh about things that other people would never understand. We know that caring for a disabled child is difficult and rewarding; it's good to know that we don't need to do it all alone.
Wrong Planet chat and forum for autistic people and families
ASD parent and carer pack
What is autism? Where to turn next? During the time of going through assessment or having a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, it can be difficult to know what questions to ask and where to go for answers. The Telford and Shropshire ASD parent and carer information pack is a useful starting point as an introduction to autism and provides you with information on local services.
The Autism Directory
Helping autism families get the help they need. Find autism friendly resources in your local area and beyond.
Autism West Midlands – books and resources
Browse the AWM shop (costs involved)
Royal College of Psychiatry information
Find out more about autism and autism spectrum disorders, as well as offering practical advice about how to get help on the NICE website.
NICE guidelines on autism
This guideline covers the recognition, referral and diagnosis of autism in children and young people from birth up to 19 years.
"Teaching emotion-recognition to people with autism spectrum conditions". These cd-roms are for children and adults with autism spectrum conditions to use as teaching tools to help them learn about emotions. They have a comprehensive set of emotional expressions in the face and the voice, as produced by actors, and use computer-game formats to help the user learn this information that they usually find difficult.
National Centre for Mental Health Autism Spectrum Disorder
Information for parents. Downloadable leaflet or complete the order form to receive a free copy through the post.
Education Autism Education Trust
These resources could help parents and carers identify what is important in the education of their child with autism or Asperger syndrome. Parents and carers can use these resources to talk to staff in schools about how best they can work together and also help the parents find the best school for their child.
Keeping Children Safe from Abuse - NSPCC
The Underwear Rule and Help Keep Children Safe from Abuse
Teach your child the Underwear Rule and help protect them from abuse. It's a simple way that parents can help keep children safe from sexual abuse – without using scary words or even mentioning sex. Specific booklet to help parents of children with autism find out more about the Underwear Rule.
Travel advice for parents and carers of children on the autistic spectrum. To help your journey Manchester Airport has created terminal-specific travel booklets for parents and carers with children on the autistic spectrum. This relates specifically to Manchester Airport, but there's some good advice about general travel.
Preparation and practicalities. Planning a holiday is exciting and sometimes stressful. If you have a child with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) a trip away may involve extra organising and preparation. This guide will help you to prepare.
Guidance for Parents
Using technology – computers, games and other devices - is a popular leisure time activity for people with autism. Here we provide practical guidance to parents of children with autism to help them get the most benefit from technology and avoid associated problems.
Freaks, Geeks & Asperger Syndrome by Luke Jackson
Have you ever been called a freak or a geek? Have you ever felt like one? Luke Jackson is 13 years old and has Asperger syndrome. His main reason for writing was because "so many books are written about us, but none are written directly to adolescents with Asperger syndrome. I thought I would write one in the hope that we could all learn together."
Asperger Syndrome in Adolescence by Liane Holliday Willey
Reflecting the views of parents, professionals and those with Asperger syndrome themselves, this book tackles issues that are pertinent to all teenagers, such as sexuality, depression and friendship, as well as discussing topics like disclosure and therapeutic alternatives that are more specific to those with AS. This book aims to make the transition from child to adult as smooth as possible, and is an essential survival guide to adolescence.
Marc knows from the inside what people with Asperger syndrome need to understand, and much of his knowledge has been acquired through bitter experience. His expressed wish is that others should not have to learn by such a hard route, and that some of his own short term disasters should be avoided by others coming after him.
We update this information on a regular basis. If you notice any links are broken or information has changed please contact ShropshireFIS@shropshire.gov.uk and we'll update the information.