Happy World Autism Awareness Day!
What are we trying to achieve?
It’s that time of year again, when our Neurodiverse tribe reach out to the majority population, those with the ‘predominant neurotype’ aka most commonly occurring brain. Our aim is to (at least) raise awareness of our condition, our differently wired brains. At best we hope to achieve acceptance that Autism is not a disease or a deficit, but a neurological difference. We are a natural variation in the gene pool. We are part of evolution. We have many unique strengths that set us apart from our peers. Our ability to hyper focus means we work with a superb attention to detail, an ability to seek out patterns and solutions and become Masters in our special interests be that, science, dance, literature or animal behavior. We also have unique struggles largely due to our co-morbid conditions (mental and physical health issues that often occur alongside Autism).
As an Autistic woman with two young Autistic sons I am often told that my boys and I ‘don’t look Autistic’. It’s like people expect us to carry or flag, or stick a label on our chests ‘watch out! Autistic about’.Even among our immediate family we can be misunderstood due to the way we communicate and our sensory needs.
And of course the myths surrounding Autism precede us....
Myth: Autistic people can’t feel empathy.
Truth: We are more often hyper-empathic. We feel and care deeply. What we struggle with is cognitive empathy or ‘understanding another persons perspective’).
Myth: Autistic people are learning disabled.
Truth: It is estimated between 20-40% of Autistic people have learning difficulties. But please remember, the inability to speak does not mean the person automatically has low intellect or can’t communicate in other ways. We are each unique so get to know us before you draw conclusions.
So as you can see, Autism awareness has a long way to go. You may know our ‘label’ but do you know what it means? Are your beliefs based on Autistic people you know and training you’ve attended? Or are they based on Autistic characters portrayed in films and TV series? If you’ve had training, how long ago was this? Were you trained by actually autistic people with lived experience of the condition?
Celebrating the Accepters!
I am proud and grateful that through my work at Aspie Trainers I have met countless individuals who are actively embracing Autism acceptance by coming on our courses. I have been filled with optimism and awe at the positive intentions and mature understanding of so many of our course participants. I’ve met many, many devoted parents, committed to their Autistic young person’s wellbeing and potential, warriors taking on our education system trying to secure reasonable adjustments and inclusion for their child. I’ve trained a highly engaged team of Sussex Family Support Workers; I’ve twice worked with the social enterprise and charity Emmaus who provide housing and employment for the homeless; and I’ve trained the most forward thinking commercial business I’ve encountered Coast to Capital who are committed to providing employment opportunities for neurodiverse people. So on World Autism Awareness day I am proud to say that Aspie Trainers pursues Autism awareness and Acceptance every day, every time we step in front of you and train.
Autism and Coronavirus - why we may be more prepared than you think... I also want to recognize today, that these are exceptionally strange times with the global coronavirus pandemic. For Autistic individuals in particular, anxiety levels will be sky high. Yet our Autistic brains in many ways are well equipped to deal with the demands of this situation...
⁃ for many of us our safe place is home, we where can be our true selves and shed our mask. So the requirement to self isolate may not feel as stressful to Autistic people. Certainly my boys are loving being home and the opportunity to throw themselves into their special interests.
⁃ OCD is a burden many of us struggle with, yet through this we are often hyper focused on good hygiene and safety as part of our day to day routines. So we are already adapted to the new requirements.
⁃ Many Autistic people already embrace the online world to conduct their day to day lives. We shop online. We socialize online. We stay in touch through social media channels as it’s easier and more preferable to face to face meet ups and negotiating crowded shops.
⁃ Our special interests give us a passion and purpose. They are so much more than a hobby. They are the things that keep our hearts beating. So we are less likely to get bored or claustrophobic being at home. Instead we are embracing the rare gift of time to invest in ourselves and our interests.
When the world returns to a more recognizable routine, please get in touch. We’d love to see you on one of our courses to help you become part of the Autism Acceptance success story we are building.