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S32 Step By Step Guide


Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism spectrum disorders are lifelong developmental disabilities. Autism spectrum disorders fall within the ambit of section 32. ( See s 32 (6) (f))The term 'spectrum' is used because the range and severity of the difficulties experienced by people with autism spectrum disorders varies widely. Generally speaking, people with autism spectrum disorders are likely to have significant problems in the areas outlined below.

Social interaction

The person may appear disinterested and withdrawn. They may be unable to engage in social interaction and be unresponsive to the experiences or emotions of others.


The person is likely to have difficulty expressing needs, wants or experiences, and with using or interpreting non-verbal communication.


The person may exhibit behaviours such as restricted or obsessive behaviour, relying on rituals and routines to bring some order to the chaos and confusion they feel. A change in routine can result in high levels of stress and behavioural problems.

Sensory sensitivities

The person may be overly sensitive to certain sounds, smells, colours or textures, which may cause stress and difficult behaviour.

Adapted from Fact Sheet, Autism, and Aspect website

A significant proportion of people with autism spectrum disorders will also have intellectual disability or learning disability. Some of the behaviours associated with autism may appear odd or threatening and attract negative attention, including police attention.

There is no known cure for autism, but social skills and other training can make a difference to the effects of autism on an individual. Adults with autism can be assisted to develop ways to manage the anxiety and behavioural effects of the disability.

For more information about autism spectrum disorders visit the Aspect website at

Intellectual disabilityAsperger's disorder

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