Well, first of all let’s look at what Autism isn’t (and get the negatives out of the way)…
These are all misconceptions that have been bandied about in previous years, and now mean we all need to work harder to undo and erase any negative societal stigma that can sadly still exist today.
Being autistic does mean that your brain works in a different way to other people; in a nutshell, it affects the way you communicate and interact with others. And this really can be something great! Recently a news story came to light about an amazing young boy who wrote a book about space specifically for those with autism and then after selling out on the initial run he committed to relaunching the book so more autistic people could benefit from it. He is 10 and has autism and ADHD and none of these things have held him back. He is inspiring so many other children to see their autism as a “superpower” the way he does and hopes to become an astronaut one day! You can read more about Aston’s book here.
Autism is often described in terms of the deficits, and this is done so that the correct support can be determined. But always talking about what a person can’t do or focusing on the ‘shortfalls’ can be demoralising and will ultimately affect self-esteem. So, now we will look at what autism can mean, focusing on the many positives that exist but are less widely talked about.
Here is a list of attributes that can accompany people with autism:
There are a list of common tell-tale signs and these can be obvious from an early age. For example, someone with autism may:
Some autistic children may behave in ways that can affect the whole family; some common behaviours are:
Autistic people sometimes use their behaviour to help them manage their feelings and make sense of what’s around them. Quite often, someone with autism may have other conditions such as: ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety, epilepsy or depression. Autism is something people are born with, so someone diagnosed with autism will be autistic their whole life. Scientific studies suggest that genetic and environmental factors can lead to the onset of autism by influencing early brain development.*
Autism is a spectrum disorder which means that everybody with autism is different, with different symptoms and different behavioural traits, and sometimes you will hear it referred to as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). Some autistic people need little or no support whilst others may need help from a parent or carer on a daily basis.