Orkney Islands Council
Working together for a better Orkney

Autistic Spectrum Disorder

Nationally, increasing numbers of children are being recognised as having an autistic spectrum disorder. These disorders are more common than was historically perceived. This is due in part to our increasing awareness and recognition of the enormous range of difficulties within the spectrum and how children with autism might present.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders are pervasive developmental disorders which cut across all intellectual abilities, geographical and social boundaries, racial and ethnic groups. They are not just a problem of childhood but are lifelong. However, with appropriate understanding and intervention the effects can be minimised and quality of life improved. Children with autism can also have particular strengths.

Developmental difficulties which could be due to an autistic spectrum disorder may first be noticed by parents or professionals such as health visitors, school staff and speech and language therapists. It is important that an assessment process, with a view to diagnosis and appropriate intervention, is established for these children as early as possible. A diagnosis however is not necessary for specific needs to be identified and addressed, as with other barriers to learning, there are ‘good practice’ approaches that will help not just one child, but all the pupils in the class group.

It is important that assessment takes place over a period of time, in different places and with different people. The differences assessed are in three main areas: social interaction, social communication, social imagination - flexibility in thought and behaviour.

Further information and advice about autistic spectrum disorders can be found in the Related Downloads section and contains information regarding:

  • The Service for Children with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder Leaflet.
  • Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Autism and Aspergers Syndrome: An Introduction for Parents Booklet.

Orkney ASD Parent Programme

The impact on family life can be enormous when a child has an Autistic Spectrum Disorder. Orkney’s Integrated Children’s Services has developed a parent training programme which is offered as part of the multi-disciplinary plan following ASD identification, and delivered at a time, place and pace convenient to parents. Expected outcomes include: reduced parental and family stress, parental reports of improved communication with their children, reduction in challenging behaviour reported by parents, increased and sustained parental confidence in dealing with new issues around their child. The programme also aspires to support parental contributions to any planning that takes place for their child.

A course of 6 sessions covers a general introduction to ASD, communication and behaviour. It examines the underlying differences in cognitive processing which explain the common challenges to people with ASD, and then deals with various interventions to support the individual while providing strategies to promote optimum independence and personal development. Within the programme there is flexibility for parents to select aspects of their child’s communication and behaviour to work on, and they will be helped to do this through video feedback and various visual and recording systems.

The programme is delivered by trained coaches who come from a variety of backgrounds in relevant areas of Health, Education, Social Work, and the voluntary sector. These people also have the essential pace and ‘people skills’ to communicate, adapting it to the needs and interests of the family.

Contact for Further Details

Specialist Teacher for ASD, Support for Pupils, Education, Leisure and Housing, Orkney Islands Council, School Place, Kirkwall, KW15 1NY.

Telephone: 01856873535.