Autistic Spectrum Disorder

25 years ago the NHS indicated that there were only 6 cases of autism in every 10,000 of the population and now the number is around one in 100. The current scientific thinking on both sides of the Atlantic is suggesting that there is a genetic predisposition to autism however it is likely that other, as yet unidentified, factors contribute to this significant rise. Research continues but it may take some years to pin down the actual reason for this massive increase (Dr Carol Stott, Cambridge University).

Officially known as ASD (Autistic Spectrum Disorder), it is estimated that there are half a million people in the UK with this disorder and about 140,000 are under 18; it is estimated that only 15% of adults with ASD are in full-time employment.

So what is Autism & Aspergers?

The spectrum of ASD is broad - ranging from people who may have high cognitive ability but exhibit poor motor function, monotonal speech patterns and "eccentric" behaviours with (relatively mild) needs for repetition and routine, to those whose cognitive function, behaviour, language and social understanding is significantly impaired. Nevertheless, at whatever level, ASD is a complex and lifelong disability that can cause significant distress, depression and anxiety for sufferers, families and friends.

It can be extremely difficult to understand autism, as there are few definitive boundaries; however many ASD sufferers share issues of "sensory overload" or problems with sensory processing and have difficulties dealing with loud noise, bright lights, large groups of people and information "crowding". Such everyday events can cause a person with ASD significant trauma and anxiety. The ability to process all the information coming into our senses accurately and correctly is essential for the development and maintenance of the skills necessary for daily life, physical, cognitive, emotional and social communication and integration, as well as our ability to care for others and ourselves.

ASD Features

As previously noted, ASD is a complex and wide ranging disorder; however there are some common features that are worth noting:

For an ASD sufferer, all the above can cause extreme anxiety and frustration, and for some, outbursts of anger and self harming behaviours. However it is important to note that people with ASD may have significant strengths that can be extremely advantageous - especially in the workplace:

Autistic 'stories'

Feedback & Testimonials

"I bought the DVD for my 13 yr old son who has Down's Syndrome and Autism and has a fascination with water.
The intention was to play it towards the end of the day to help him relax before bed to aid sleep. I actually played it this morning and he was really interested in it and he let me brush his hair with no problem which is usually not tolerated very well.
For me, as a parent/carer it is very soothing too unlike listening to 'In the Night garden' which is his favourite programme at the moment.
I may be back to buy a CD for the car as car journeys can be awful when he is bored and loud (no speech but lots of loud sounds which is very wearing)."

"The outside inside when you feel you can"t go outside - this will be my great escape in winter and late at night when I can"t go out, but need to."
Earlier this year I was introduced to Barry Wheelock who has for some sometime now been producing some film work which has been greatly received by many individuals on the autism spectrum. Many people I know have found these DVD's extremely useful as a calming and coping strategy, I have taken these DVD's on some of the talks that I give on autism all over the country these have been well received.
Steve McGuiness stated this on his own website dedicated to Autism (
Steve is also a Trustee of the National Autistic Society (

"I invited Barry to speak during my Sensory Integration Teleseminar and received a copy of the 57-minute Calmer By Nature DVD to use at home. This film is pure and stunning nature footage - there are no people, no voiceovers, and no music.
The concept was created to simply relieve stress and anxiety; however it has turned into a powerful therapy supplement for people with Autism, Sensory issues, Dementia, Alzheimers, insomnia, and more. It is reliable, predictable, and safe, which are key elements for special needs patients. It even encourages communication and creates talking points for people that have difficulties with social skills and conversation. It"s also used by some of the top Occupational Therapists to aid with cognitive and behavioral therapy.
I was hoping for mild results at bedtime with my son, who can at times be-bop around like a whirling dervish until all hours of the night despite our best rituals. If the DVD helped that issue alone, it was worth the price!
What I experienced from the product far surpassed my expectations! Yes, it works at bed time just as I had hoped. It also:

  • Calms him before an outing he may be feeling anxious over.
  • Redirects him during times of high stimulation.
  • Provides him with short, 10-minute "cool down" times when he needs a sensory break.
  • Gives him ideas for drawing and video creation projects.
  • Starts conversations about the wildlife we see on the film.

Surprisingly, my daughter also became an instant fan. She told me that it enhanced her creativity when drawing or writing new stories and helps her overcome her blocks. It"s definitely a nice change from the blaring TV shows that are sometimes over-prevalent in our home.
For me, I typically have trouble shutting my mind off when I am amidst a task list that is pages long. The overwhelming can feel well, overwhelming! The film brings me back into the now and offers a reprieve from my mental gymnastics.
I highly recommend Calmer By Nature for all ages, whether you"re dealing with Autism in your family or just want some stress relief. You won"t be disappointed.
I can"t wait to see the other projects Barry has in the works, including two more films, an Audio CD version, and an iPhone application."

"I like that it follows a journey - this makes it safe and predictable for my clients....their diagnosis (autism) means that this DVD is calming and soothing - the quiet regular sounds of nature can be used to provide a safe space, the animals provide (for) non-threatening watching material that really does help get his (client's) attention, even when he is really on the way to being out of control with challenging behaviours - it avoided staff needing to "hold" him."

"I like the birds and other animals...badgers are so funny, just like people...really a bit silly with each other, but you can almost guess what they are thinking". This started a conversation about how hard it is getting on with others who don"t know you, and what they might think about you, and how body language is even more important than what we say in words."

Many of the above comments on the Calmer By Nature DVD were gathered independently during a survey by MBB Connections Ltd (Therapy and Training Consultancy).

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