Similar to the word of the day, in solidarity with world autism awareness day, I thought that I would write a brief description of autism.
Thank you to the autistic community on Twitter, I have learnt that many autistic adults do not enjoy the phrase ‘on the spectrum’ as it is not an absolute definitive to accurately describe a person with autism. Therefore, I will avoid that phrase.
To clarify, autism is not an illness and should not be associated with any negative connotations. Autism is the nomenclature for somebody with a particular set of neurodiverse characteristics and behaviours. People with autism tend to struggle with communication and interaction, understand the emotions of others, find bright lights, loud noises, and large crowds overwhelming, and can become upset with unfamiliar situations or change.
Autism varies for each autistic person who may possess a small number of these traits but is still considered autistic (NHS, 2019). However, it is crucial to avoid misconceptions that people with autism have low empathy or zero social skills as that simply may not be the case.
I believe that people with autism try very hard to fit into ‘everyday’ life, such as regular conversations, employment that requires face to face interactions, and constructing regular relationships (Kamnitzer, 2019). Perhaps it is time for the focus going into society accommodating neurodiversity, rather than those with autism – (and other neurodiverse conditions) – being subjected to a life that is designed to support a neurotypical person. For example, I love that my local cinema sometimes shows sensory-friendly viewings where the sound is not as loud, there are less people, and there is freedom to roam about (Dimensions, 2021). Unfortunately, these screenings happen approximately once a month.
I believe that change would be beneficial in the education system to make society more autism-friendly and negate any misconceptions that admittedly I myself have once held, I personally would have benefited from being educated earlier, however, I acknowledge that I continue to learn all I can about autism.
I would also like to acknowledge Dimensions – (linked below in the bibliography) – who work hard to trial autistic-friendly public spaces.
I would love to hear any thoughts about how we could improve our society to become increasingly autistic-friendly.
- Dimensions (2021) ‘Find Autism Friendly Cinema Screenings’ [Online] Available at: https://dimensions-uk.org/get-involved/campaigns/autism-friendly-cinema-screenings/ (Accessed 3rd April)
- Kamnitzer, J., (2019) ‘How Autism Feels, From the Inside | Op-Docs’ [Online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDXo83OtzgE (Accessed 3rd April)
- NHS (2019) ‘What is autism?’ [Online] Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/ (Accessed 3rd April 2021)