Words by Temi Otedola
Original Thumbnail Art by Antonia Weishaupt
A Follow Up
This post is a long awaited follow up to a blog post I published on April 2nd 2017 (here). World Autism Awareness Day falls on the 2nd April; however, every year the month of April remains the designated month to increase people’s awareness about autism. In my 2017 blog post that you can read (here), I discussed my own personal journey growing up with a brother who is on the autistic spectrum and how it’s impacted my life. After reading the responses to this blog post, I soon realised that I wasn’t alone in this journey and many other families are living with a similar situation, whether it be Asperger’s, autism, ADHD, or other behavioural conditions. After receiving such an overwhelming response to this blog post, I decided to take it upon myself to spread as much Autism Awareness as I could on my various platforms.
Therefore, to honour World Autism Month, I want to share with you further information covering what autism is and how you can help the cause in your own lives, whether you are personally affected by the condition or not.
AUTISM FACTS: 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).
Break The Stigma
Most crucial to autism awareness is the acceptance and understanding of autism. As a society, we need to end the stigma surrounding behavioural conditions. There is absolutely no shame or disgrace in being on the autistic spectrum. To inform those of you who might be reading about autism for the first time, autism is characterised as a developmental disorder that is incredibly varied depending on the person, hence why we use the term autistic “spectrum”. It’s hard to pinpoint how autism surfaces in each person due to this variation, however, it can often mean autistic people have difficulty with social interaction, communication and controlling repetitive behaviour e.g. stacking items or repeating phrases.
AUTISM FACTS: Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Educate Yourself And Others Around You
My brother, Fewa is on the autistic spectrum, growing up I always saw Fewa as Fewa, not someone who was defined by this condition. That is why autism awareness and acceptance is so crucial. Autism is a condition that can affect people, people with feelings and emotions just like the rest of us.
It’s important that we take the time to think before we insensitively stare and judge someone who may be acting in what we deem to be a strange manner in public e.g. skin scratching, shouting, or even avoiding eye contact, should we see these signs we should instead take the time to consider whether that person may be on the spectrum, if so they may just need our patience and support.
AUTISM FACTS: Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.
Take It One Step Further
If like me you love someone who has autism or if you are interested in learning more on this topic, please find below some charities and tools that I have found truly useful:
- Discover the Basics of Autism: https://www.mencap.org.uk/learning-disability-explained/conditions/autism-and-aspergers-syndrome
- Autism Speaks – follow their Instagram (here) and Twitter Page (here)
- Sensory Magma App
- Autism Tracker Lite
- How you can get involved with Autism Awareness Month: https://www.presencelearning.com/april-is-autism-awareness-month-how-to-get-involved/
AUTISM FACTS: Nearly two-thirds of children with autism between the ages of 6 and 15 have been bullied.