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THE latest addition to the Grange Hill gang, Ben's wee brother Martin, has been introduced in the latest series.

He suffers from a condition called Asberger's Syndrome, or AS. This is a form of autism that affects about four in every 1000 kids in the UK.

The difficulty is that people with AS look and seem the same as most other young people. But they are not.

And because of that, they often end up getting bullied or picked on. It's important then that you understand what AS is and how it affects young people of your age.

AS affects the way you communicate and act socially. It's not easily recognisable, but there are some general signs of the condition.

People with AS may sound a bit formal, not able to read what's going on in a group, or don't get any jokes or sarky comments.

They have difficulty making friends, or even making conversation.

They dislike change, wanting a pattern to their day and routine in the way they do things (often very small things).

They may have a fascination with a subject or hobby and go on and on about it, even when you want to change the subject.

They can also be sensitive to certain noises or sights, or a bit clumsy.

People with AS are not stupid. In fact, they can have exceptional talents and skills and are of average or higher intelligence.

But they are a bit different and that always makes people a target for bullies.

If you know or think you know someone with Asbergers, find out as much as you can about it from the places below, and be a friend.

MORE INFORMATION

THE NAS has produced a factsheet for young people which you can get by phoning 0870-600 8585 or visit the web site at www.nas.org.uk

This number is also their advice and information hotline, open between 10am-4pm, Monday- Friday.

You can also visit the Grange Hill website at www.bbc.co.uk/cbbc/drama/ grangehill

There's also a brilliant site created by a young guy with AS: www.asberger- syndrome.com

AS FACTS

AS is nine times more common in boys than it is in girls.

You can't die from it. But AS can change your perceptions of what is dangerous, such as being too preoccupied to look out for traffic.

Asbergers doesn't disappear as you grow up, but adults can usually adapt and have fewer problems.

GRANGE HILL

ELEVEN-YEAR-OLD Martin Miller is played by Matthew Buckley.

Martin is a quiet and withdrawn boy who has difficulty making friends.

Usually shy, he lacks social skills, can have occasional fits of rage, and more frequent spells of sadness or depression, sometimes taking the most innocent comments to heart.

Martin excels in Maths and his special interests are calendars, diaries and engineering plans.

Other kids, to Ben's embarrassment, think Martin's weird, but Ben will always stick up for him.
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jun 6, 2001
Words:490
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