World Autism Awareness Week
It’s Autism awareness week! With this in mind, we thought it was a good time to shine a spotlight on the condition that affects 1 in 100 people today.
According to the National Autistic Society, 700,000 adults and children live with autism in the UK. Yet despite the large number, many of us are unsure what autism is, and how we can best support loved ones living with the condition.
So, what is Autism?
First things first. Autism is NOT an illness. People with autism just think differently. The National Autistic Society describes autism as:
‘A lifelong developmental disability that affects how people communicate or interact with the world.’
Those who have autism will have it for life, however, it’s not a barrier to living a fulfilling one; we certainly believe no disability should ever define a person!
Yes, autism presents many challenges; some may struggle with social interaction; display repetitive behaviours; be under, or over, sensitive to certain stimuli.
However, the increased focus on hobbies and interests can lead to many autistic people surpassing their peers, achieving academically and professionally. Some notable autistic members of society, past and present, include Albert Einstein and Bill Gates.
Autism has the ability to cause severe anxiety; not just for the person affected, but for the family members too. We understand that being unsure of how to support a loved one with Autism is distressing. This is why we have come up with our top 5 tips for providing support.
Autism has the ability to cause severe anxiety; when a person with autism experiences an attack, it’s important to stay calm.
Listen to your loved one; if they are distressed, they may try and communicate this to you.
Observe your loved one, if they can’t communicate verbally, they may use their behaviour to do this. By getting to know them, you will be able to understand what their triggers are and support them by applying strategies that are able to reassure them and help them de-escalate.
Encourage your loved one to recognise their own triggers and support them to apply their own preventative strategies.
Try to apply consistent approaches. People with Autism can find change and unpredictability distressing.
It’s important to remember that Autism will present itself in many different ways; it’s a spectrum condition, and no one is the same. Getting to know the person and building trusting relationships with them will enable them to feel safe; this is key to you providing the best most effective support.
For more guidance please refer to The National Autistic Society.