Meeting the Needs of People with Autism / Asperger Syndrome A new service recently established by Saint John of God Hospitaller Services is a much needed accommodation and support service for young adults with autism/Asperger syndrome and is based in Welwyn Garden City in Hertfordshire. It has long been identified by Hertfordshire County Council that there was a need for a specialist service for people with Asperger syndrome, who do not fall neatly into the eligibility for either learning disability or mental health services. For the first time these young people will have the chance to purchase a service that understands their needs and assists them to make choices on how they live their lives and who will support them. The staff working in this service will all have advanced, specific training in how to support someone with autism/Asperger syndrome. This knowledge will then be used to develop support plans around each individual’s needs and wishes. The service will be provided in the property that once served as the community house for the Brothers based in the South, in Welwyn Garden City. The Brothers, now having moved to the Olallo Service in London, were keen to retain the property and make a provision for people who needed it. What is Asperger Syndrome? Asperger syndrome is a form of autism, which is a lifelong disability that affects how a person makes sense of the world, processes information and relates to other people. Autism is often described as a 'spectrum disorder' because the condition affects people in many different ways and to varying degrees. Many people with autism/Asperger syndrome do not get diagnosed until they reach their teenage years. Schools often label people with undiagnosed autism/Asperger syndrome as being ‘problematic’. This can lead to bullying and subsequent mental health problems and frustration. Asperger syndrome is mostly a 'hidden disability', meaning that you can't tell that someone has the condition from their outward appearance. People with the condition have difficulties in three main areas: social communication, social interaction and social imagination. While there are similarities with autism, people with Asperger syndrome have fewer problems with speaking and are often of average, or above average, intelligence. They do not usually have the accompanying learning disabilities associated with autism, but they may have specific learning difficulties. With the right support and encouragement, people with Asperger syndrome can lead full and independent lives.