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Case Studies » Sickness » 2014/02 - Specified Disability: Autism Spectrum Disorder


Specified Disability: Autism Spectrum Disorder     

Background: The appellant, aged 16 years, attends secondary school and is in Transition Year.  Following the rejection of his Disability Allowance claim, the appellant’s father made an appeal on his behalf.  He stated that his son was incapable of communicating on this matter, referring to his diagnosis of Autism at 3 years of age and submitting reports from the local Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, the Educational Psychologist who assessed the appellant, and the School Principal.  He also included an outline of typical school day which had been compiled by his son’s full-time Special Needs Assistant (SNA).   

His father submitted that the appellant has required constant adult supervision to accommodate his engagement in society, including educational environments, and that this is ongoing.  He stated that his son was not capable of interacting with his peers, had been unable to participate in any sporting activities despite trying to become involved in the Special Olympics.  He stated that he leads a solitary life and is easily disturbed by change, to the point where he can he self-harm.  He has poor social skills and, while he is currently in Transition Year, he is accompanied by his SNA when on work experience.  In conclusion, he submitted that the appellant is incapable of working to a task or in an environment that would be deemed suitable for his age, experience and qualifications.

In completing the ability/disability profile, his GP assessed the appellant as being affected in the following areas:

  • Learning/Intelligence - affected to a mild degree
  • Balance/Co-ordination  - affected to a mild degree
  • Mental Health/Behaviour - affected to a moderate degree

Oral hearing: The appellant was accompanied by his father.  The Appeals Officer observed that there was no need to ask the appellant more than one or two questions before it became obvious that he has a very serious incapacity such that he is unlikely ever to be capable of independent living never mind taking up employment.  His father acknowledged the need to see the appellant and stated that his behaviour and demeanour at the oral hearing was actually very good with reference to his usual behaviour.

Comment/Conclusion: The Appeals Officer considered that the appellant demonstrated the outward signs and behaviour that reflected his diagnosis. He opined that the G.P.’s assessment was far removed from the reality of his condition as he had observed it at oral hearing.  He concluded that the appellant is, and will probably remain, very severely restricted in undertaking any employment now or in the future and, accordingly, that the appeal should succeed.

Decision of the Appeals Officer: The appeal is allowed.