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Shining the spotlight on autism during global awareness week

​Shoppers in Stowmarket will be given the chance to find out more about autism and the expert help and support which Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) can offer during two special events taking place on Tuesday (5 April).

Clinicians from the Suffolk Autism Diagnostic Service, based in Haymills House in Stowmarket, will spend the day in the Meadow Centre and Asda, where they answer any questions people may have about autism spectrum condition (ASC), explain how it can affect people and give out information about the care which is available. Autism Suffolk and a service user have also been invited to take part.

The events have been organised to tie in with World Autism Awareness Week, which runs until Friday, 8 April, and aims to raise awareness of the condition, which affects more than 700,000 people across the UK.

Marcina King, Clinical Team Leader with the service, said: “Having an autism spectrum condition can have a big impact on people’s life, they may face challenges understanding others around them, and being understood; causing them difficulty with communicating, in some relationships and social situations. 

“However, it also has some positive aspects, many of which people are not aware of. People with ASC are often very hard working and honest, they can be very capable with high levels of ability and concentration skills. For some their ability to focus on a topic means they are excellent researchers and can notice crucial details other people can miss. They are very attractive to employers in the fields of engineering and IT where great attention to detail and high levels of knowledge are needed. They can also do well in publishing and creative industries where their focused elaborate imaginations and alternative viewpoints are valued. There are also lots of famous people with ASC, such as Bill Gates, Gary Newman, Paddy Considine, Susan Boyle, Guy Martin, Darryl Hannah and US beauty queen Rachel Barcellona.

“We hope that as many people as possible take a few minutes out of their day to come and chat to us on Tuesday so that we raise awareness of this condition while also helping people to better understand what they could do to help someone with autism.”

The Suffolk Autism Diagnostic Service was launched in autumn 2013, and carries out around 160 adult assessments and 180 youth assessments each year. 

If ASC is diagnosed, the multi-disciplinary team will provide some short-term support, such as one-to-one or group sessions, while also signposting people to other sources of help.

Anyone who thinks they could benefit from a referral to the service should speak to their GP.