Every year throughout April, National Autism Awareness Month aims to recognise all the individuals on the complex autism spectrum and to educate the world about autism.
What Is Autism?
According to the NHS, autism is a lifelong condition which affects the way a person communicates and interacts with others on a day to day basis. It is a hidden disability that is hard to recognize as no two people are the same, due to the wide autistic spectrum.
A person with autism tends to see the world in a different light, often exceeding in tasks that are normally found difficult and struggling in areas that are seen easy and straightforward, however, this is not always the case.
Common characteristics involve: repetitive behaviors, routines and troubles with social skills such as making friends, expressing their needs and interpreting the needs of others.
Famous People With Autism:
Autism is often painted as a dreadful disorder that severely limits people’s lives in society.
Dan Aykroyd, actor, comedian, musician and filmmaker, most well-known for his hit Ghostbusters was on the autistic spectrum. He was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome and gives credit to his condition for being responsible for his huge success.
Similarly, MoStack, UK musical artist openly speaks about being autistic, something many people show their surprise towards.
“I don’t do interviews because of my autism & because everything you need to know about me is in my music.”MoStack, 2016
Moreover, sensational singer Susan Boyle who rose to fame when first appearing on Britain’s Got Talent in 2009, for most of her life was misdiagnosed with brain damage. Many years later, she discovered she actually had Asperger’s Syndrome, a form of autism. Despite the struggles that come with her condition, she maintains determined to succeed and hopes that now with the right diagnosis, people will be able to understand who she is much better.
Why It’s Important To Spread Awareness:
Autism is much more prevalent than many people realize. There are more than 1 in 100 people on the autistic spectrum in the UK and if you include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people.
Raising awareness would improve the public’s understanding for autism and lessen the stigma surrounding it. This can help integrate autistic people into society as many are cut short from opportunities because they are misunderstood. For instance, in employment, only 16% of autistic adults are in full time work and 77% who are unemployed say they want to work. Requirements such as job interviews, highly restrict people with autism from working as good communication skills are essential. Therefore, allowing job interviews to be more accessible, would open the doors for several autistic people, many whom have incredible abilities of great use in the workplace.
Furthermore, a lack of understanding for those with autism can create isolating environments, especially for autistic children in schools. As stated by the national autistic society, 34% of children on the autistic spectrum say that the worst thing about being at school is being picked on. For that reason, enforcing awareness into educational sectors from as early an age as possible, can break down barriers between children who process information differently to others.
Additionally, carers and families of those with autism can experience emotional distress and financial hardship trying to find the right health and social care services. Spreading awareness can make a great difference in aiding those with autism.
How Can You Spread Awareness?
There are so many different ways in which you can show your support by doing at least one of the following:
- Sharing your story
- Raising money e.g. Running, street collections, skydiving, spectrum night walks etc.
- Using social media e.g. starting positive conversations with people on autism
- Donating to organisations that help autistic people e.g. Autistic Self-Advocacy Network (ASAN)
- Supporting autism- friendly businesses
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