World Autism Awareness week is here!
1st – 7th April marked National Autism Awareness Week, a time dedicated to increase the knowledge and understanding of Autism. Alongside this, it is a perfect time to celebrate all the wonderful work that people do around the world to support people of all ages with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) their families and carers.
In the United Kingdom, around 1 in 100 people have Autism, this equates to about 700,000 people. Due to the ever growing population of people being diagnosed, this figure can never be 100% accurate. If we were to consider Autism in the wider context of the family, a staggering 2.8 million people’s lives are impacted by Autism. (National Autistic Society)
With the correct help and support, people with Autism and their families can lead normal lives however for a lot of young people, adults and their families living with Autism, it can be a very isolating and lonely place. Even though work is being carried out to help people have a greater understanding of Autism, there is still further work to be done in order to create a more inclusive society.
Common mistaken messages
Have you ever been asked a question, something that you think you know the answer to however are not quite sure if the answer is in fact correct? Equally when you know something albeit are not quite sure how best to explain it, this can leave you feeling frustrated and a little lost for words… ?
Confusion and uncertainty can create a whole range of problems; people are misinformed of the facts, they too are unable to understand. More often than not, leaving with more questions than answers! This is something which we all will experience at different times in our lives, for some more than others.
People with Autism can not communicate with others. Autism is a spectrum so whilst some people are unable to talk or possibly express their needs, others can do this so well they learn to mask their disorder.
Autism is still often mistaken as being a mental health disorder when it is in fact a neuro-developmental condition.
Autism is a life long condition and not something that will go with time. There is no cure for ASD however this does not mean that with the right help and support people with Autism can lead a relatively normal life.
A time to reflect
Some of the challenges I have faced not necessarily as a professional but as a mum has been trying to find the right words to explain Autism to young people, family and friends. If I were to put on my professional hat, considering the knowledge and experience I have acquired through both training and working with children, young people and their families over the years, describing Autism seems a relatively easy thing to do!
So why is it that when I put on my parenting hat, all this knowledge and experience seems to fall by the wayside?
One thing I have come to realise over the last 6 months is this – looking at something as a professional and understanding it is completely different when you are looking at it as a parent. Thinking about Autism and the impact that it can have on family life, especially when that family is your own has meant understanding Autism on a completely different level, something that comes with a significant amount of emotional attachment.
Today I am sharing a film which someone shared with me initially 6 months ago, it was made by a man over a two-year period who wanted to help explain to the world what Autism is and how it can impact on an individual’s overall emotional mental health and well-being. It is very cleverly put together to help people understand more about Autism in a very beautiful but simplistic way.
Six months ago, ‘Amazing things happen’, evoked a range of feelings and emotions. Overwhelming to watch, it also brought some comfort and a little bit more insight into how Autism impacts on a persons life., from a child’s perspective and something that no amount of text books can teach you.
As part of World Autism Awareness week, ‘Amazing things happen’, was shown again in a Facebook group and instead of tears, it made me smile. Reflecting on the last 6 months I have learnt so much more than I realised, yet like anything we still have a long way to go.
A time to celebrate
Around the country lots of charities and organisations are working exceptionally hard to help families with Autism. In the North East of England we are fortunate to have some amazing support groups who whilst they too have their own work and family commitments, organise a range of events and opportunities for families to come together.
Trying to go out as a family can be challenging, especially when there is a lot of changes to routine and uncertainty, emotions can run high and in these times it has been known that instead of going out, day’s out have resulted in ‘stay at home days’. Because of this it is wonderful to have access to groups that help create the space where quality family time and memories can be made.
Back in January as a family we were given an opportunity to go as a family to watch Middlesbrough v Peterborough at the Riverside Stadium. Something had it not been for Remembering Rebecca, Autism Parents Together and the Middlesbrough Football Club’s Generation Red Family Zone as a family we would not have been able to do. A wonderful family day with a change to make some memories to bottle up for those rainy days!