What Should Everyone Know About Autism?
Today is Worldwide Autism Awareness Day, when people all over the world are asked to educate themselves a little bit more on what autism is and how we can support people who are on the autistic spectrum.
So what do we actually need to know about autism?
Autism encompasses a broad range of brain disorders that, by conservative estimates, affects 1 in 500 children.
Autism Spectrum Disorders impair three main areas of human development:
• Social interaction
These impairments may range from mild to severe.
It is important to remember that:
1. There is no connection between autism and mental health conditions, for example schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder
2. You cannot develop autism or grow out of it
3. You cannot ‘change’ someone’s autism. That is, you cannot teach someone with autism to grow out of it or get used to something
4. Some people on the autistic spectrum can only handle one form of communication at a time; they may not be able to look and listen at the same time, therefore they may avoid eye contact
5. Routine and structure is often crucial and even seemingly small changes can seriously affect a person with autism
6. Many people with autism do not enjoy, nor understand, aspects of social interaction
7. People with autism often find it difficult to interpret social cues, for example the appropriateness of certain language or physical touch in some social situations
8. Some people on the autistic spectrum may have difficulty speaking verbally or may lack speech altogether. Some people develop gestures in order to communicate in other ways
9. Many people on the autistic spectrum are unable to interpret facial expressions or emotions
10. People may find it difficult to transition from one activity to another and may prefer engaging in repetitive activities for extended periods of time, like stacking blocks or decoding rubiks cubes
This is a very basic list to introduce you to the support needs of a person on the autistic spectrum.
It is most important to understand that every single person with autism has individual needs that must be supported in a unique way. Getting to know and understand a person is of the utmost importance, in order to support them effectively.
Visit the National Autistic Society to get more information and advice on autism.
Creative Support has a full training calendar including extensive training on autism: what it is, and how we can best provide a personalised service to the people that we support.
This training is compulsory to all Creative Support staff supporting someone on the autistic spectrum.
If you are not a member of our staff you can also pay to attend this Skills for Care accredited training. For more information please contact Tracey Oliver-Walsh at firstname.lastname@example.org, or ring her at our head office on 0161 236 0829.
By Suzy Kennedy, Development Officer