World Autism Awareness Week: What is Autism?

Autism Awareness Week

As part of World Autism Awareness Week, we here at wanted to delve into some of the questions surrounding autism.

World Autism Awareness Week

What is autism?

Autism is a developmental condition which affects the way an individual interacts, communicates and behaves. Approximately 1 in every 100 people in the UK has Autism, with more boys being diagnosed with the condition than girls. The exact cause of the condition is unknown, however it is though that complex genetic and environmental factors are involved.

Those with autism may have difficulties understanding non-verbal communication such as facial expressions or gestures, understanding emotions in others and starting conversations. They are often very literal and can sometimes have problems understanding jokes or sarcasm. People with autism like sticking to the same routine and changes in their routine can trigger outbursts. Children with autism may also lack interest in other children and will tend to play alone. Autistic people may experience some form of sensory sensitivity which is where a person’s senses are either intensified or under-sensitive. For example, they may find certain sounds very loud or distracting. More signs of the condition can be found on The National Autistic Society website.

Autistic people often have different levels of learning disabilities and can affect all aspects of life. Some will be able to live a fairly independent life, whilst others may require lifelong support. Associated conditions with autism include dyslexia, dyspraxia and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

What is Asperger syndrome?

Asperger syndrome is a form of autism and affects social communication, social interaction and social imagination. People with Asperger syndrome usually experience fewer problems with speaking and are of average or above average intelligence. They may also have specific learning difficulties such as dyslexia or other conditions including ADHD. You can find out more about Asperger syndrome on The National Autistic Society website.

How is autism diagnosed?

Autism is diagnosed by health professionals such as a paediatrician or psychiatrist. A GP can refer you to a specialist to make a diagnosis.

Usually, people with autism are diagnosed as children. This is helpful as it allows them to access services and support.

Assistive Technology Apps


This month, iansyst launched a brand new and exciting page on – a page dedicated to providing information about the latest assistive technology apps for iOS and Android phones and tablets! Assistive technology (AT) apps are becoming increasingly popular to help those with dyslexia, visual impairment, physical difficulties and many more disabilities. Whether they are being used on their own or to accompany a full desktop version, AT apps are a great tool to help make smartphones and tablets accessible. You can view the page here.

The page currently features a variety of app categories, including text-to-speech, concept mapping and notetaking support. Some of these you can even download for free on the App Store or Google Play. Our Apps page will continuously be updated to promote the ever growing range of apps on the market, so keep an eye out for future additions to the page.

The Apps page also features iansyst’s own apps that we have developed, including our popular literacy support app, AcceleRead AcceleWrite. AcceleRead AcceleWrite is a fun and easy to use, interactive certified remedial reading scheme designed for use on an iPad. The app provides ‘virtual’ cards, each with a series of sentences which the student will read one by one until they have memorised the sentence. They then tap on the screen to input the sentence exactly as it appeared to them. The integrated text-to-speech will enable them to listen to what they have typed to check for errors. This process is repeated until the sentence is correct and they can move onto the next level. There are eight levels of increasing difficulty and your progress is tracked in your results page, showing you how many attempts were made at each level and which levels have been completed.

iansyst are happy to provide support and advice about the ever growing range of apps and which could be beneficial to you. Please get in touch if you would like more information:

Email us:

Call us: 01223 420101

View the Apps page by following this link:

Museums reach out to people with learning disabilities

museums-reach-out-to-people-with-learning-disabilitiesMuseums and cultural organisations should improve access for people with learning disabilities.

Access to the arts, galleries and museums for people with learning disabilities should be improved, according to a new report.

The research, conducted by Lemos&Crane, surveyed 81 arts organisations, museums and galleries across London and found that 46 per cent of mainstream (non-disability specialist) respondents didn’t offer any activity for people with a learning disability.

The report said: “Very few mainstream organisations had an embedded, publicised, ongoing stream for people with learning disabilities or had facilities for those with learning disabilities to access public events.

“Many organisations seem to be doing little or nothing. The general landscape of provision is patchy and halting.”

What’s more, the survey also revealed that cultural organisations found it difficult to reach people outside of the education system, resulting in those with learning disabilities being particularly underserved.

Despite this, the survey did report some areas of excellence in specific organisations, but museums and galleries are urged to do more to improve access and engagement in learning disability sectors.

Alistair Brown, policy officer at the Museums Association, said that organisations that want to get involved in the project should create a short case study outlining:

  • A description of project objectives
  • How the project has been promoted
  • How the project has been funded
  • How the organisation has worked with stakeholders
  • Outcomes and evaluation

One idea that arts and cultural organisations could employ is the use of assistive technologies that work to educate youngsters with learning disabilities through a series of digital software tools.

(Credit image: Thinkstock/megainarmy)

100 disabled people a day finding work following government’s #DisabilityConfident campaign

The government’s #DisabilityConfident campaign to help more disabled people into work has resulted in 100 disabled people every working day finding jobs, training or work placements.

#DisabilityConfident was launched in July 2013 by the Prime Minister, David Cameron who spoke of the importance of dispelling the myths about the complexities of employing disabled people.

The campaign has resulted in more than 78,000 people finding work since 2011 and is part of the government’s long-term economic plan to build on the increasing employment rate for disabled people.

Minister of State for Disabled People Mike Penning said: “This government is determined to boost the employment rate for disabled people.Our campaign is backed by the country’s biggest businesses and has started touring the country to show case the impressive talents of Britain’s 6.9 million disabled people.

“People with disabilities account for a fifth of the workforce and are tremendously valuable to the British economy – helping us compete in the global race.”

The Access to Work scheme, which provides financial support towards the extra costs faced by disabled people at work, supported 31,400 disabled people to keep or get employment last year and is soon to be extended to work experience placements.

Sir Stelios Haji-Ioannou, the founder of Easyjet, said, “Already over 100,000 disabled entrepreneurs employ an equivalent number of people in their business start-ups. This highlights the extraordinary strength of the entrepreneurial flair and talent amongst the disabled people of this country.”

Although employment rates are gradually increasing they are significantly lower than for non-disabled people.

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