Drink and Drugs News DDN 1805 - Page 12

TreaTmenT choice Access for autism Are alcohol services meeting the needs of adults with autism? Alcohol Concern and the University of Bath are working to improve support for this client group and want to hear the views of practitioners, as Andrew Misell explains T here are around 700,000 people in the UK on the autistic spectrum – around 1 per cent of the population. When you’re on the spectrum, social interaction and communication – with all their unwritten rules and conventions – can be tricky. Reading the thoughts, feelings and behaviours of others can be a minefield. When you’re unusually sensitive to sounds, touch, and light, our world of constant stimuli and chatter can be a challenge. And when you add it all up, everyday situations can feel overwhelming. In the face of all this, retreat into safer spaces and activities is attractive. Indeed, many people with autism do respond to the busyness and bother of the world by avoiding risky or unpredictable situations. This has led in turn to something of an assumption that they are unlikely to misuse alcohol. The logic goes something like this: if someone likes to be clear about where they stand, why start using a substance that makes everything foggier? ‘Many people with autism do respond to the busyness and bother of the world by avoiding risky or unpredictable situations. This has led in turn to something of an assumption that they are unlikely to misuse alcohol.’ 12 | drinkanddrugsnews | May 2018 www.drinkanddrugsnews.com