What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is not a mental health problem but children and young people with ASD are at risk of developing mental health problems. There are ways of reducing these risks. It is important that, if a young person with ASD is thought to be developing problems with their mental health, this is assessed and appropriate support and interventions are provided by professions skilled in working with those with ASD and their families.
Signs and symptoms:
Children and young people with ASD might experience difficulties with communication and interaction with others. They might also find it hard to understand emotions or be very sensitive. Sometimes things in the environment, such as a lot of noise, can be distressing.
Some children and young people with ASD develop behaviours which cause them distress. They might also feel sad or angry. Behavioural assessment and support can help them, their family and their school.
There is also a risk of children and young people with ASD having other mental health problems which might not present in the same way as those without ASD. Expert assessment is important to understand and address these needs.
ASD can be associated with learning disabilities but this is not always the case. Children and young people with ASD might need additional support or “reasonable adjustments” to access education and leisure activities.
Written by Dr Sarah Bernard