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April is World Autism Awareness Month

April is World Autism Awareness Month

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 When hearing about autism, many people think of the film Rain Man, or of a child genius who can’t function at all socially. The reality for most people affected by autism is somewhat different.

 

Autism is a developmental disorder which affects the way a person communicates and relates to the world. The causes are not known, and it is a lifelong condition. It is a spectrum, which means while all people with autism will share certain traits, the effect the condition has on them will be different. Some will be able to live independently, while others may need care for the rest of their lives.

 

People with autism have difficulties with social interaction, communication and imagination. Common social mores like sarcasm and jokes are difficult to understand, and figurative speech tends to be taken literally, so the expression  ‘cool’ may mean slightly cold to someone with autism, rather than slang for something good. They see the world differently and often feel they don’t fit in, but can’t figure out why. People with autism often have learning disabilities that mask the symptoms of autism.

 

Asperger Syndrome is a form of autism that is not usually accompanied by severe learning disabilities, and people with it are often of higher than average intelligence, but sufferers may still struggle with social interactions and may have milder learning difficulties such as dyspraxia and dyslexia. Around 1 in 100 people in the UK are on the autistic spectrum. As awareness of autism and Asperger syndrome grows, diagnosis for children is becoming more common, but for adults it can still be a struggle.

 

The first step in getting a diagnosis would be to talk to a GP. It might help to ring the Autism Helpline to help prepare what to say. The GP will then make a referral to a clinical psychologist or psychiatrist for an assessment and formal diagnosis. They will ask questions about childhood history, day to day interactions and so on. There may be more than one appointment before a report is written and official diagnosis is made, but once it is done, further support and services can then be accessed.

 

Organisations like Scottish Autism can be a great help – www.scottishautism.org.  They provide information about services to support autistic people, such as housing, befriending, employment and education. They also provide support for friends and family of autistic people too. The vast majority of people with autism lead happy, independent lives, especially if the people around them have knowledge and understanding of the condition.

 

 

 

 

For World Autism Awareness Month Scottish Autism wants to get as many people talking about autism as possible. They are asking you to support ‘A is for Autism’.

The idea is simply to make a letter ‘A’ shape, whether it’s a cake baked in the shape of an ‘A’ or an ‘A’ created out of your favourite things, we need you to get creative and share your ‘A’!  Once you’ve completed your masterpiece text AUTT15 £2 to 70070 to make a donation and then nominate a friend to get creative.  Remember to share your ‘A’ pictures with us by sharing it on our Facebook page or tag us in your photo so that we know.  Alternatively you can email it to fundraising@scottishautism.org and we will add them to our Facebook Album – the one with the most likes will win a prize!

By sharing your ‘A’ picture with us you are helping to raise awareness of autism, and hopefully encourage people to take some time to really understand the condition. Just remember, the ‘A’ you make carries an important message so get creative and join in today!