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Helping people with autism to assess their social care needs

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Strictly speaking, social care is the realm of the social worker rather than the nurse. However, nurses and other health professionals may be involved in helping those with an autism spectrum condition (ASC) to assess, plan, meet and evaluate their social care needs.

This may include nurses working within community mental health and learning disability teams and others employed by national autism support organisations, such as the National Autistic Society (NAS), and by regional support organisations.

Support and advocacy
Areas of social care support could include assistance with: budgeting; obtaining social welfare benefits; finding and keeping accommodation; buying furniture; healthy eating; access to and use of public transport through 'travel training' schemes; employment; learning activities; and leisure facilities.

In all of these areas, the person with an ASC must be a central member of the multi- disciplinary team and not a peripheral to assessing, planning, implementing and evaluating support.

The role of the nurse is to be fully involved as an advocate of the person with an ASC if he or she needs it; aware of what services are available; aware of who to go to or to whom the person with ASC can be referred for help. A simple database or folder of information about appropriate services and contacts may be all that is needed.

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