CHILDRENS SERVICES NoRSACA operates a range of services for children with autism and their families based on sites in and around Nottingham
The Early Communication and Autism Partnership
The Early Years Diagnostic Centre, in conjunction with Discovery Learning, recently completed a three-year research project developing the Frameworks for Communication approach; a diagnostic and intervention programme for very young children with autism and their families This resulted in the setting up of the Early Communication and Autism Partnership (ECAP) for families living in the Gedling, Broxtowe and Rushcliffe areas. From September 2004 the partnership was extended throughout the country.
- Why do families need a diagnosis?It should not be necessary to ask this question; nobody would query the need for a diagnosis for a child who was deaf or partially sighted, or who had Downs syndrome. Unfortunately, many parents of children with communication disorders are still asked accusingly why they want to ‘label’ their child. Parents of any child with a specific problem need to know what that problem consists of, whether it has a name or not. The name will in fact be useful in finding the right support group, looking for more information and explaining his problem briefly to people who ask. Much more important in diagnosis is that we map out the child’s special difficulties, begin to explain why he or she behaves in the way he does, work out what are the child’s strengths, and use all the guidelines that nowadays exist to think about how he can best be helped. There are different guidelines for intervention and handling appropriate to different diagnoses, and therefore it is important to be as clear and detailed as we can. Some children are not quite typical of any one diagnostic category; even then, it is possible to set out in what ways the child does and does not conform to a particular diagnosis, and what are the implications for him or her. Our aim is always to make better sense of the child in order actively to aid his development. The better parents understand their child and his or her condition (not just the name of the condition), the more capable they will be in meeting the difficulties that arise. This is why partnership between parents and professionals is so crucial.