A Guide for Health Professionals working with Women with Autism


Scottish Women with Autism Network (SWAN) in association with Autism Network Scotland launched its first information flier: A Guide for Health Professionals working with Women with Autism.

SWAN was established in August of 2012. It aims to raise awareness of how autism affects females, challenging entrenched misconceptions such as autism being a male-only condition and any perceptions of autism as having one-shape-or-size.

SWAN is currently a fledgling organisation hoping to stretch its wings in time, with a wider remit, bigger membership and increased resources.

One of SWAN’s first initiatives is the production of leaflets aimed towards groups who may come into contact with women with autism on a professional, or work basis. SWAN is planning to produce a parallel set of documents to assist females with autism as they have to liaise with various individuals and bodies.

The pilot leaflet provides pointers that SWAN hopes will be of value to health professionals as they engage with women who are on the autism spectrum.

Aimed at those working in clinical environment this first leaflet highlights the importance of being understanding and flexible with your patient as she may have issues which make effective patient/practitioner interactions challenging. She may have trouble identifying and appropriately communicating what she is experiencing eg the location and nature of pain. She may also have difficulty understanding and interpreting any questions or instructions or responding appropriately.

SWAN would highly appreciate any constructive feedback on this first venture! You can email your thoughts, suggestions and comment to swan.scotland@gmail.co

An Ordinary Life

Perspectives on living life to the full. The needs, rights and aspirations of people with Aspergers.


The writing group for this document was made up of members of the Asperger Forum, with contributions from their invitees from Edinburgh and Lothian Asperger’s Scoiety and Autism Rights Group Highland and associated professionals who were invited by the Forum members to take part.


It is hoped that “An Ordinary Life” will contribute to a wider understanding of inclusion-exclusion issues for people on the Spectrum, as well as giving a shared voice to people with AS and professionals on a range of relevant topics generated through personal experience and group discussion.

Autism Research-Policy-Practice Hub

As many as 1 in 100 children have an Autism Spectrum Disorder. Beyond the suffering for the individual and family, the lifetime economic cost of this condition is estimated to be £3-4 million per individual in the UK. Although research has advanced our knowledge on evidence based practice in areas of early identification, diagnosis and intervention, much of this knowledge is not reaching policy and practice. Likewise some key issues affecting individuals with autism that are being articulated by third-sector organisations and government agencies are not impacting on research.

The aim of this knowledge exchange project is to create a unique Autism Research-Policy-Practice Hub that will reach across research, policy and practice communities to enable the co-production of knowledge of autism. The goal of this initiative is to facilitate advances in health and wellbeing by providing insight into public policy and practice agendas and increasing access to knowledge on evidence-based approaches to autism. This Research-Policy-Practice initiative builds on a unique foundation of policy and research partnership made possible by the Wales Government’s autism strategy, the first government strategy for autism in the world. It will provide the first national research-policy-practice model of its kind, and a model for the UK and internationally, both within the field of autism and beyond.

Autism Trainer Manual

Sue Hatton and Elizabeth Attfield have published a resource titled ‘Autism Trainer Manual’. This manual is for anyone with responsibility for delivering autism awareness training. The manual covers all the learning outcomes for the level 2 health and social care unit, introductory awareness of autistic spectrum conditions.

The manual and accompanying DVD-ROM includes:

• a comprehensive introduction

• five detailed session plans

• two SCIE Social Care TV clips

• PowerPoint presentations for each sessions

• activity sheets for learners

• handouts summarising the key learning points

The manual also includes one copy of the study book An Introduction to Supporting People with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (2011) by Sue Hatton and Tom Boughton. Additional copies of the book for learners can be purchased from BILD.

For more information about BILD books and services go to www.bild.org.uk

Balfe and Tantam (2010) A descriptive social and health profile of a community sample of adults and adolescents with Asperger syndrome

Little is known about the health and social profile of adolescents and adults with Asperger syndrome (AS) living in the community. We conducted a study to describe the living, employment and psycho-social situation of a community sample of forty two adults and adolescents with AS, and to describe these indivdiuals’ experiences of accessing health services and taking medication.

Most respondents (including those over eighteen years of age) lived at home with their parents. Most had trouble reading and responding to other people’s feelings, and coping with unexpected changes. Difficulties with life skills, such as cleaning, washing and hygiene were prevalent. The majority of respondents were socially isolated and a large minority had been sexually or financially exploited. Almost all respondents had been bullied. Mental health problems such as anxiety or depression were common. 30% of respondents said that they regularly became violent and hit other people and 15% had attempted suicide. More positively, the majority of respondents felt that they could access health services if they had a health problem.

The results of this study suggest a relatively poor social and health profile for many people with Asperger syndrome living in the community, with high levels of social problems and social exclusion, and difficulties managing day to day tasks such as washing and cleaning; these findings support the results of other studies that have examined psycho-social functioning in this group.

Balfe, M. and Tantam, D. (2010). A descriptive social and health profile of a community sample of adults and adolescents with Asperger syndrome. BMC Research Notes, Vol. 3(300).