Case Study of the Impact of an Autism Profile on a Young Woman

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Case Study of the Impact of an Autism Profile on a Young Woman

The following is a case study of a young woman, Angela (her name has been changed) who requested help from Aspiedent CIC. Angela was diagnosed with autism, a neurodevelopment disorder, as a child. She was bullied at school and ended up at special school where she was not taught anything much. She insisted on going to college at 16 and then went onto university, where she scraped a degree (we think because of sheer determination). However, although she had some success with her studies, she was not able to benefit as much as she could have done because of lack of understanding and inappropriate support.

How we helped a young woman with autism

When we first started to help Angela, it was not possible to hold a conversation with her. She kept picking up on key words and phrases and then talking about them, instead of concentrating on the topic at hand. It was clear to us that Angela was intelligent, but we found it impossible to measure this intelligence. Angela could not do any of the exercises we tested her on. She would have scored so low on an intelligence test that she would be labelled as having severe learning disability.

When Angela came to us, she was desperate for a job and desperate for friends.

It took us a while to work out exactly what was going on and what the issues are. However, once we worked this out and put appropriate interventions in place to help Angela, she came on in leaps and bounds. Aspiedent’s support has been life changing for Angela in the following ways:

  1. It is now possible to have a conversation with Angela.
  2. Angela now realises that each person is different.
  3. Angela will now talk to strangers and even accept help from them. Before she refused to speak to other people on her course; now she does talk to them.
  4. Angela’s relationships with her family are very much improved, now that it is possible to have a proper conversation with her.
  5. Angela is now able to benefit from mainstream education and is currently studying at college for her Maths and English GSCEs.
  6. Angela is finding that she can do things now that she could not do before. Before she could not do maths at all. Now she has passed level one maths and even enjoys maths. Before she could not understand how to build webpages with HTML, but now she is finding that she is able to do this.
  7. Angela is now much less rigid in her thinking and able to think more flexibly about her plans.
  8. Angela has learnt how to do some critical thinking: she is now able to spot logical contradictions.
  9. Angela is now going to unfamiliar places by herself.

How did we work these seeming miracles?

1. First - work out what is causing the problems

The first stage is to work out exactly what is going on. We recognised that Angela has very slow processing in hearing and vision. This means that Angela struggles to take in information that is presented to her, whether that is via speaking or via visual aids. Angela had developed a maladaptive coping strategy for this which was to rote learn everything. She even rote learned how people react in certain situations. This had three main consequences:

  • It was impossible to have a conversation with Angela because instead of listening, she would pick up on key words and phrases and talk about those. Angela craves social interaction, and, in this way, she was able to obtain some social interaction with people. But of course, this never led to friendships because for that you need conversation skills.
  • Angela failed to develop any problem-solving skills, if you gave her a problem to solve, she simply guessed at the answer without even attempting to understand the question. This made Angela very rigid in her thinking.
  • Angela was extremely anxious. Rote learning is not a good strategy for everyday life.

2. Put suitable interventions in place

The main interventions we put in place for Angela was to teach her how to think and how to solve problems. The first stage was to find puzzles that tapped into something that Angela enjoyed (writing). Once Angela had managed to solve one kind of puzzle we could move onto other kinds of problems. Angela particularly liked ‘gobbledygook exercises’ where the task was to identify logical inconsistencies in news articles.

We also gave Angela some social skills training which tapped into the new problem-solving skills she was learning. We helped Angela to study how different people react in different circumstances.

This has stopped Angela from relying on rote learning and has given her a better understanding of the world around her. It has increased both her social communication and general communication abilities.

These relatively simple interventions have led to all the life changing impacts listed above. Angela is now much happier and much less anxious. She is enjoying her studies in a way she never thought possible. She is doing things she thought she would never be able to do.


As a general rule, teaching facial expression and body language to autistic people does not help them with their social skills. It is far better to work out what is preventing them from learning social interaction and from meeting their goals. Only once you have worked out what the issues are, can you put appropriate interventions in place to help a particular autistic person. It is important to recognise that each autistic individual will need their own tailored interventions.

Aspiedent has a service that helps people understand their autism and any issues they may have. This is part of an ​autism profile​, which is an application of the Integrative Cognitive Profiling Framework. Sample autism profiles can be found on our website.

As well as helping people to understand their individual autistic difficulties. An Autism profile can assess whether potential study choices are likely to work out or not. Similarly, they can help with careers advice. They can be very beneficial for children and be instrumental in ensuring they can access education effectively.

If you are interested in having an autism profile, please do get in touch.