Autism and NLN

National Learning Network provides training and specialist support to people who, for a variety of reasons, may find it difficult to gain employment.
National Learning Network helps people with Pervasive Developmental disorders including Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

The criteria for diagnosis with Autism Spectrum Disorder, as defined by American Psychiatric Association’s DSM-5 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), are:

  • Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
  • Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities

For diagnosis, these symptoms must have been present in the early developmental period, but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities or may be masked by learned strategies in later life, and these symptoms should have caused, or continue to cause, clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.

In DSM-5, several previously separate categories of autism were consolidated into one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, namely:

  • Autistic disorder 
  • Asperger syndrome 
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder 
  • Pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)

Intellectual disability and autism spectrum disorder frequently co-occur.

More details on Autism Spectrum Disorder can be found via this document, “Information on Autism Spectrum Disorders for Parents and Carers”, from Temple Street Children’s University Hospital.

How National Learning Network Helps Autistic People

NLN’s parent organization Rehab Group has developed an Autism Strategy which is underpinned by a number of principles: 

  • Personal progression as defined by the WHO Quality of Life measures
  • Specialist staff training
  • Evidence-based practice
  • Physical environment guidelines as defined by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in the UK
  • Innovation, Research and Technology
  • Working towards Quality Standards accreditation with the National Autistic Society in the UK

NLN offers a range of supports for autistic adults around Ireland. We provide support with some of the following:

  • Where to access an adult assessment
  • Application and support letter for disability allowance
  • Application and support letter for housing list
  • Anxiety management
  • Confidence building
  • Assertiveness skills
  • Sleep management
  • Executive function skills (decision making/planning/problem solving)
  • Independent living skills (finances/cooking/cleaning/laundry/self-care/travel)
  • Relationships and sexuality
  • Gender identity
  • Sensory assessment and regulation plan
  • Employment support (career inventory/applications/interview skills/work placements)
  • Social groups – requests from clients (Yu-Gi-Oh card game/Dungeons & Dragons/Drama & Movement/Cooking/Sketching/Meditation/Women’s Coffee Group)
  • Social events – requests from clients (Comic Con/Escape Rooms/Virtual Reality/Meals/Bowling/Walks/Museums)

To read more about Rehab Group’s Autism Strategy, click here

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