It's World Autism Awareness Week!
What is autism and how can you help? We have the low-down.
It’s World Autism Awareness Week this week – so let’s talk about autism! Understanding the way autism works is SO important as autistic people are so easily misunderstood when people interacting with them don’t know the facts.
But we’re here to give you the facts right now!
What is autism?
Autism is a developmental disability which makes you perceive the world and interact with other people differently. It’s a life-long condition and cannot be ‘cured’ – it’s more a way of being.
Autism exists on a spectrum which means not everyone who has it has exactly the same symptoms. But they do share common traits – autistic people generally find it more difficult to socialise and communicate with other people, and they often like to have set routines and rituals on account of finding change confusing or overwhelming.
Why do Autistic people struggle to connect with others?
One of the reasons autistic people find it difficult to socialise and communicate is that they often miss social cues like gestures, sarcasm, facial expressions and tone of voice. Instead, they can take language very literally at face value, so can easily misinterpret meaning.
Emotions are also more difficult for autistic people to understand and express which means they can appear insensitive or unfriendly.
A lot of autistic people feel very isolated and alone even though they often try very hard to join in.
What are the other key signs of autism?
Autistic people often like repeated rituals and having set plans day to day in order to make their lives more predictable and gain a sense of control whilst living in what can seem a confusing world.
When autistic people have an interest in something it is also more likely to be an intense and very focused interest, and they can also sometimes have intensified or under-intensified senses, so for example a noise we may not be able to hear well could be particularly loud and distracting for them and make them anxious.
How many people have autism?
More than 1 in 100 people in the UK are living with autism – more than you thought, right?
One thing to remember is that it may not be clear if someone has autism, as there are often no physical identifiers or clues.
Why is it important to raise awareness about autism?
Not knowing about autism can result in us dismissing autistic people as rude or insensitive in our daily lives. That’s why knowledge is key - the more we know about it, the more we can adjust our attitudes and integrate autistic people into our daily lives with compassion and acceptance. Autistic people have a lot to battle with – from social isolation to unemployment struggles (only 16% of autistic adults in the UK are in full-time paid employment), and they want to be accepted and included in the world, just like everybody else.
What can I do?
Spread awareness on social media using the #WorldAutismAwarenessWeek which is trending on Twitter today, and get raising money for the National Autistic Society in any way you can!
If you’re stuck for ideas, here’s a video for inspo!
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