Autistic Spectrum Disorder

What is Autistic Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that may affect the way a person communicates and relates to other people, but simultaneously excel at fine detail, systems and classifications. People with ASD will not usually have a learning disability but may experience Specific Learning Disabilities, anxiety and other conditions. 

A person with ASD may spend many hours immersing themselves, often conscientiously, in a job. However, this can be at the cost of communicating effectively with their work colleagues. Further information can be found on the National Autistic Society website.

Diagnosis

Diagnosis can easily be overlooked in childhood and early adulthood, due to the individual managing to negotiate the school/college/university years and academia. Besides, how many slightly “offbeat” people do we come across in life who, in spite of having ASD, may not have a medical diagnosis, or who may not experience difficulties?

The prevalence of autistic spectrum disorders is estimated to be as much as 1% of the population. Autistic (systemising) ways of thinking and diagnosable ASD conditions are thought to be more common among academia, physicists, engineers, accountants, IT consultants and doctors, although we have no reliable prevalence figures for these as yet.

Many people will present with mild, non-diagnosable traits. Recent research also suggests that in periods of stress, the “normo-typical” population will narrow perception to an autistic way of thinking, so it is far more common than previously thought.

Referral

Wessex doctors in postgraduate training who have begun to display signs of ASD, or who are experiencing difficulties managing their day-to-day work, can be referred (via their educational supervisor or Wessex PSW case manager) for ASD screening.

Asperger’s screening

Screening will be conducted by the educational supervisor or Wessex PSW case manager, using the AQ10 questionnaire.

Assessment

If the screening results indicate possible ASD, a three-hour assessment will be conducted by an ASD expert.

Bespoke support

If it transpires that a doctor does have ASD, up to six hours of bespoke support will be provided by the ASD expert. This will include the development of a “What you need to know about me” guide, especially for trainees found to have Asperger’s. This information/guidance pack will be provided to the doctor and their educators.

Additional support can be provided by the ASD expert, but will need to be financed by the doctor or their workplace.

ASD experts

The Wessex PSW currently works with several ASD experts with different backgrounds, who offer assessment or bespoke support.

Contact us

PSW.WX@hee.nhs.uk
01962 690309