The 2nd April marks Autism Awareness Day. Although autism is spoken about and understood more widely now compared to five or ten years ago, there are still a lot of stereotypes and myths associated with the condition.
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects around 1 in 100 people, meaning there are around 700,000 autistic people in the UK. Autism is a spectrum condition and affects people in different ways, such as:
- Autistic people may struggle with interpreting both verbal and non-verbal language like gestures or tone of voice. Some autistic individuals may struggle to communicate, or have limited speech, whereas others could have very good language skills. People on the Autism Spectrum may struggle to understand colloquial language, such as sarcasm. Please allow autistic individuals a little extra time to process what you have said to them.
- Autistic individuals often struggle to ‘read people’ – finding it difficult to understand other people’s emotions or intentions.
- The world can seem an unpredictable and confusing world for autistic people. This is why they often prefer to have a routine, so they know what is going on. Change to routine can be distressing, but with the correct support change can be achieved.
- Anxiety is a real difficulty for many autistic people, particularly in social situations or when facing change. Over one third of autistic people have serious mental health issues.
- Many autistic individuals can have highly focused and intense interests or hobbies. An autistic individual can become an expert in their specialist interest and like to share their knowledge with others. Greta Thunberg for example, has an intense interest in protecting the environment.
As a team we have collated some useful materials that will help you to learn more about autism and in particular the subject of communication for autistic people. These materials are listed below – we have also shared details on how you can download your very own hospital passport, which will help with interaction upon any visit you may have to one of our hospitals.
The Communication Trust - Other ways of speaking leaflet
The Communication Trust - Misunderstood leaflet
Supporting Autistic Adults and Children
The role of Speech and Language Therapy in autism
Download your own Hospital Passport