NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

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Autism spectrum condition

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Autism spectrum condition is a condition that affects an estimated 1 in 100 people in the UK. The condition affects behaviour, social interaction, communication and interests. In children, the symptoms present before the age of three years but a diagnosis can sometimes be made after the child turns three.

Symptoms

Symptoms of autism spectrum condition can include:

  • Children not babbling or using vocal sounds in early infancy
  • Issues with non-verbal communication (e.g. eye contact, gestures, facial expression)
  • Lack of awareness or interest in other children
  • Delayed language development
  • Repetition of words and phrases spoken by others
  • Becoming upset if a normal routine is broken

For more information on symptoms, visit the NHS choices website.

Diagnosis

Due to the main feature of autism spectrum condition being difficulty with social communication, the condition is often recognised during early childhood. However some symptoms may become noticeable during a change in situation perhaps when the child starts school or nursery.

See your GP or health visitor if you have concerns about your child's development or you notice any of the symptoms of autism spectrum condition. For more information on an autism spectrum condition diagnosis visit the NHS choices website.

Causes

Although the exact cause of the condition is unknown, it’s assumed several complex genetic and environmental factors ae involved.

In the past, some people believed there was a link between a child receiving the MMR vaccine and presenting with autism spectrum condition symptoms. However after extensive research in a number of major studies worldwide, involving millions of children, there was no link found between the MMR vaccine and autism spectrum condition.

For more information visit the NHS choices website.

Caring for someone with autism spectrum condition

Caring for someone with autism spectrum condition can be challenging, it can be easy to forget about your own health and mental wellbeing, which is vital when caring for someone else. Therefore it’s important to get help if you need it.

You can read more about care and support, including information on:

Additionally, you can also call the Carers Direct helpline on 0300 123 1053.

The Sheffield Autistic Society - a local charity for people with autism (including Asperger syndrome) and their families, who provide support and information, and campaign for a better world for Sheffield people – children, young persons and adults – with autism and Asperger syndrome. You can find their website here.

Stopping over medication of people with a learning disability, autism or both (STOMP)

STOMP is a national project involving many different organisations which are helping to stop the over use of these medicines. STOMP is about helping people to stay well and have a good quality of life.

Psychotropic medicines affect how the brain works and include medicines for psychosis, depression, anxiety, sleep problems and epilepsy. Sometimes they are also given to people because their behaviour is seen as challenging. People with a learning disability, autism or both are more likely to be given these medicines than other people.

These medicines are right for some people. They can help people stay safe and well. Sometimes there are other ways of helping people so they need less medicine or none at all.

For more information, visit the NHS England website.

Additional information:

NHS Sheffield Clinical Commissioning Group

Headquarters
722 Prince of Wales Road
Sheffield
S9 4EU