April is World Autism Month, and it begins with the internationally recognised, United Nations sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2.
This year will be the 15th annual World Autism Awareness Day. This day aims to raise awareness and help the community to understand the limitations of living with autism every day.
Did you know that 1 in 100 people are born with autism? It’s quite common which is why it is so important to take part in World Autism Awareness Month by sharing as much information about it with your loved ones, colleagues, and community.
More than just awareness: it is understanding, accepting and supporting.
World Autism Day is more than just creating awareness but fully accepting people with autism for who they are and understanding what it is like to have autism. There are more things that can be done to provide support for people with autism as well their family members and carers.
Every autistic individual on the spectrum is different, so it is important to keep that in mind when interacting with individuals who are living with autism. Common challenges people with autism face are sensory issues, so try to make sure noises aren’t too loud and turn down the lights to avoid bright lights.
Social interactions can also be very overwhelming, so be understanding if a person with autism doesn’t make eye contact with you or goes quiet or is unable to speak. Reading facial expressions and interpreting meaning in words can be very stressful. Large crowds can also be very overwhelming, so perhaps arrange to meet in a quiet, less busy environment.
Remember everyone is very different. Talk directly to people with autism calmly and precisely. Keep your words as direct and clear as possible. Ask what they need gently.
Keep in mind that not only people with autism are faced with challenges. Sometimes their immediate family members, foster carers or extended family members have their own challenges too. So check in with them and ask questions about how they are feeling and if they are okay. Parents who are raising a child with autism may feel lonely, confused and physically exhausted. Therefore, as a friend, being present for them, being supportive and understanding is your greatest gift.
How Living My Way plays our part.
Living My Way is a strong advocate for autism awareness, acceptance and inclusion. We are motivated by this movement and to share our professional knowledge and learnings with everyone. We have always played our part in supporting people with autism by learning more about each individual needs, working out how we can best support them and accepting them as who they are and including them in all we do even when they do not seem interested initially. We have an incredible team of Support Workers, Occupational Therapists and Support Coordinators who provide extra support for Members living with autism and their loved ones to make their daily lives a little easier and happier.
How you can play your part.
Each person with autism has different needs. If you know of or meet a person with autism, just being present and calm with them will make them feel supported. Check-in with their carers or family members. They will appreciate your efforts in understanding their life caring for a person with autism. Share your experience with your loved ones and peers and what you learned because what you share, they will learn too.
Perhaps even more importantly, we need to create the conditions for debate and conversation between all of the people who are touched by autism and work in the field. It is, after all, only when we listen to each other that we discover what matters the most.