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  • Writer's pictureZoe Cross

Starting to understand autism

Attempting to describe or introduce autism is complicated. Everyone’s experience or perception will be completely unique. We may have autism, know someone who shows symptoms or our exposure might have come from more extreme versions we see in the media. Sir Antony Hopkins, Greta Thunberg, Albert Enstein and actor Dan Akroyd are all well-known people with autism.

Autism is usually diagnosed through the presentation of a mix of characteristics that varies from person to person. This is probably where the much-used concept of the ‘spectrum’ comes from, especially as autism ranges from quite mild to extreme.

Living with autism on any level, in any environment, can be a challenge. The key is to understand what you’re managing and be able to bring coping mechanisms into play when the situation is uncomfortable. This can be as straightforward as identifying triggers or managing expectations. It could also involve specific actions to help to negate any stress or threats felt in particular circumstances.

For example, autism may present through sensory issues. A crowded, noisy environment might create panic in someone with autism. If we don’t know this, if it hasn’t been explained or understood, we might simply assume that person is in a bad mood, behaving oddly, frustratingly or unreasonably. Once we know that external influences cause this reaction we can empathise, mitigate and work out solutions. For the person with autism, and for those around them, understanding provides clarity.

Autism isn’t something we seek to cure. Most people would agree that we need a world with every kind of person, all types of personalities. But we don’t want anyone to suffer and that’s where a diagnosis is valuable.

In children, a diagnosis can be hugely beneficial at school and often forms part of an EHCP – education and health care plan. This sets out the needs of an individual child and is instrumental in obtaining additional support. This might influence how exams are approached, if there is any technology available that can help or simply to allow teachers, support staff and, if appropriate, other children to understand your child’s moods, behaviour and responses.

Autism is a complex area as every single presentation is as different as a fingerprint. However we are able to outline some of the characteristics of autism:

· Difficulties with social communication and interaction

· Repetitive and restrictive behaviour

· Having a highly focused hobby or interest

· Suffering with extreme anxiety

· Having sensory issues with light, noise, people, touch and taste

We will introduce more information on these different areas so check back to our resource page on autism regularly.

A very useful short video by the National Autistic Society explains autism from one person’s perspective but it provides a good insight. Click the image to view.

Working with me at Cross Psychology I can help you decide whether to pursue a diagnosis through a free initial assessment. I can explain how it works and we can discuss the potential benefits for your child. The NHS is sadly oversubscribed and so, working together, we can negate the need to wait years and have some practical, supportive and positive measures in place very quickly.

Email me in the strictest confidence at and we can set up a first phone conversation at a time to suit you.

My leaflet HERE explains what to expect in a little more detail.

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