Voluntary Sector: NAS alerts professionals to symptoms of autism

The National Autistic Society (NAS) is to launch a series of campaigns aimed at professionals who have contact with sufferers of autism.

The charity wants to educate professionals in the criminal justice sector, such as judges, policemen and lawyers, about how to recognise autism and how to approach sufferers of the condition.

NAS director of policy and public affairs Stuart Notholt said that autistic children and adults were more likely to be victims of crime, such as bullying or theft, because their 'social naivety' makes them vulnerable and liable to be exploited by criminals.

The charity will also target professionals who come into physical contact with their clients, such as hairdressers, dentists and opticians, with information about how to handle autistic customers.

'An appointment with a hairdresser or a dentist can be a very traumatic event for people with autism, and they can appear to have extreme reactions,' said Notholt.

'These campaigns are pleas for understanding,' he continued, adding that he was interested in hearing from potential sponsors in each industry sector.

Professional trade press will be targeted, along with the Government, in a bid to increase resources for training professionals who work with autistic sufferers.

The move comes as the charity expands its four-strong comms team with the creation of six new roles.

The posts of marketing manager and marketing comms co-ordinator have been created, along with four press officer and PA roles. All are currently vacant.

Notholt has also been promoted to the newly created role of director of comms and PA. He will take up the post on 1 May, when his current role will be scrapped.

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