World Autism Awareness Week is an opportunity to celebrate Autism as well as encouraging awareness and education.
What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong disability which affects how people interact with the world. Not all people with autism experience exactly the same things as autism is a spectrum disorder, however, some people with autism:need more time to process questions, requests and instructions
- may struggle meeting new people
- may struggle to pick up on the unwritten rules
- may find office environments overwhelming
- may struggle with small talk and building relationships
Due to some of the experiences of people with autism, people with autism have some unique strengths including:
- intense focus
- attention to detail
- considered and reflective approach
- honesty and integrity
- creative thinking
What is World Autism Awareness Week?
Taking place from 29 March – 4 April 2021, World Autism Awareness Week aims to raise awareness of autism as well as fundraise for much needed support, resources, and services for those with autism.
The theme of World Autism Awareness Week in 2021 is Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World. There are approximately 700,000 autistic people in the UK, however, according to the University of York, only 16% of adults are in fulltime employment.
As well as increasing knowledge of children and adults who have autism spectrum disorder (ASD), the weeklong campaign aims to celebrate the unique talents of those with autism by welcoming neurodivergent skills into educational institutions, workplaces, communities, and society as a whole.
Within the week, World Autism Day is celebrated on 2 April 2021. The day which started in 2007 is 1 of the 7 health-specific UN days.
Why is raising awareness of autism important?
1 in every 100 UK school children is autistic. Without the appropriate support, school can be an extremely confusing and difficult place. According to the National Autistic Society, Autistic children are three times more likely to be excluded from mainstream school and more than 80% of autistic young people have experienced mental health issues.
The coronavirus pandemic has been hard for everyone but has been particularly tough for many autistic people and their families. Services have closed and many people have been left without support. The ever-changing guidelines and restrictions can be confusing to understand and extremely difficult to implement for autistic people with high support needs.
Learning about autism can help to support those with autism and their family and friends. Often, a lack of understanding or knowledge on something can lead to increase stigma and discrimination. Here’s a video featuring things that people with autism have heard throughout their lives due to lack of understanding:
What can I do to be involved with World Autism Awareness Week?
Reading, watching, and listening to content created for and by those with autism is a great way to increase your knowledge on the disorder and help you to understand the experiences of autistic people. The National Autistic Society have loads of information about autism to get stuck into. Why not test your knowledge of autism spectrum disorder by taking this quiz video?
Watching TV shows and movies can also be a great place to start to gain an understanding of those with autism, with shows like Netflix’s ‘Atypical’ and ‘Love on the Spectrum’ as some of the many available to engage with.
Share with others
Share information with your friends, family or colleagues so they can learn more about ASD and the importance of World Autism Awareness Week. It can be as simple as sharing this article with them!
Research and services for autism can be expensive and without funds, can mean that people with autism may not get the support and resources that they need. Fundraising is a great way to raise awareness and money for a worthy cause.
Remember that it’s awesome to be different! It doesn’t matter if someone thinks or interact with the world differently to you. Plenty of autistic people through time have been successful due to supportive environments such as Bill Gates, Tim Burton, Charles Darwin, Albert Einstein, Anne Hegerty, and Greta Thunberg, for example. Encourage people to be themselves, think differently and be kind to others.
If you’re interested in watching Atypical, check out a review from Season 1.
Find out more about Special Educational Needs on TheSprout’s SEN Info Page.