What is Autism (ASD)?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex, lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them. Signs typically appear during early childhood and although ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviours, it is a “spectrum condition” that affects all individuals differently and to varying degrees. No one person experiences autism the same which makes it a complex condition to correctly identify and support well.
Why we care?
Autism affects so many people, both those with the condition (around 1 in 100 in Europe) and those who love them. Anxiety and depression are the highest rates of co-occurring mental health conditions and many with autism may experience the additional challenges of living in a society which treats them differently – unfortunately stigmas and prejudice remain, and employment rates are low among those with autism.
Females and Autism
The experiences of autistic women and girls are still hugely misunderstood by most and it remains more common for men and boys to receive a diagnosis of autism. Loomes 2017 most recently calculated it as low as 2.5 : 1 for male to female diagnosis. Autistic females are more likely to have symptoms which go unnoticed and often internalise behaviours which can manifest in damaging ways, such as anxiety and extreme depression, and even externalise with self-harming behaviours. Fortunately, we are in changing times with a growing acknowledgement and acceptance for women to look and be experienced differently.
Any reasons to be optimistic?
The better we understand how autism affects each person differently, particularly females, the better we can support those affected to enjoy long, healthy, happy lives. Many, many men and women with ASD do live full lives with families, careers, children, partners and love, but this is better achieved if they are supported and understood by the people around them, including the specialists. With increased funding for ground-breaking research, advances in therapies and interventions, and improved awareness and understanding, we are on the path to improving the well-being of all those living with autism.
St Giles Trust - Women's Prison Project
Following a successful application to the Government’s Tampon Tax Fund earlier this year, Hannah Hayward is currently working with St. Giles Trust to improve service provision for women in the Criminal Justice System in England with mental health and complex support needs. Beginning in September 2018, Hannah will deliver ASD specialist training to both staff and offenders across seven prisons nationwide.
Under European Union rules the UK government must charge VAT on women’s sanitary products. Money raised through these taxes then goes into the Tampon Tax Fund to specifically support women’s organisations. St. Giles Trust ‘Footsteps’ programme was one of only ten successful grant applications and awarded £1.1m to expand their work helping vulnerable women in the criminal justice system. Hannah has extensive experience of providing training and support in prison environments and is immensely proud to be part of this project which will help some of the most at-risk and in need women in the system.
Please do get in touch using the form below or send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dept of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences,
Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London,
PO 23 De Crespigny Park,
London SE5 8AF
0207 848 5359