The definition of ABI varies and can cover a multitude of conditions. What seems to be consistent is that it describes a condition, which is acquired after birth (from 5 years old) and can apply to any age. It is non-progressive and can be caused by various traumas to the brain/head. For example, damage to the brain tissue after road traffic accidents, assaults, falls, industrial or sporting accidents, drug or alcohol abuse, poisoning, viral infections to the brain, neurosurgery or damage to blood vessels in the brain. It presents its own special challenges due to the combination of cognitive, physical, behavioural, emotional and social difficulties arising from damage to the brain.
Asperger’s Disorder, also called Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) or Autistic Psychopathy, belongs to a group of childhood disorders referred to as Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDDs) or autistic spectrum disorders. The essential features of Asperger’s Disorder are severe social interaction impairment and restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour and activities. However, children with Asperger’s do not have the same challenges in acquiring language that children with autism face.
Defined by Wing & Gould (1978) as a Triad of Impairment, Autism is a condition arising from the interaction of three impairments; social relationships, social communication and imagination. All three must be evident to diagnose someone as autistic.
This term is used to describe a group of disorders which includes both Autism and Asperger’s Syndrome. The word “spectrum” is used as the characteristics of the condition vary from one individual to another. People with autism may also have a learning disability. People who have Asperger’s Syndrome tend to have average or above-average intelligence, but still have difficulty making sense of the world. There is no cure for these disorders and they continue throughout life.
Some people prefer the term “learning difficulties” to “learning disabilities”. In fact, this is the term which is endorsed by People First, an international advocacy organisation. However, within the UK learning difficulties is usually used to refer to children with specific learning problems arising from medical, emotional and language problems, which are sometimes treatable.
The World Health Organisation defines “Learning Disabilities” as “a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind”. The term is a diagnosis, not a physical or mental illness to be treated through the usual medical channels. As such, support for those with learning disabilities has moved towards a social model of inclusion and integration.
Mental health might usefully be viewed as a continuum of experience, from mental well-being through to a severe and enduring mental illness.
These terms cover a wide variety of conditions and exact definitions are often the subject of controversial debate, not least between those responsible for defining and revising mental health legislation and those affected by it. However, in general terms, they refer to conditions which have neurotic and/or psychotic symptoms which impact on someone’s ability to get on with their daily life. These problems can affect anyone, of any age and background, as well as having an impact on the people around them such as their family, friends and carers.
Person Centred Planning has been developed as a method for people with learning disabilities to plan for what they want now and in the future, with the help of people in their lives who they both like and trust. Planning is carried out using person centred tools including MAPS, PATH, Personal Futures Planning and Essential Lifestyle Planning. All these tools have common elements, such as, the person is at the centre, families and friends are closely involved, reflective of what is important to the person and their capacities, specifies the support the individual needs to make a valued contribution to the community, builds a shared commitment and leads to continual listening and learning about what the person wants to get from their life.
Pervasive Developmental Disorders is another term for Autistic Spectrum Disorders, and refers to a group of disorders characterised by developmental delays in communication and socialisation skills. Parents may note symptoms as early as infancy, although the typical age of onset is before 3 years of age.