World Autism Awareness Week: What are you doing?

Until a couple of years ago, I was naive and oblivious as to what Autism even was. I had never heard of the term Autism and it was only when I started working at the Odeon at the age of 18 I began to learn about what Autism actually was. I worked with a lovely lad who had Aspergers, which was once a separate subtype, according to the Autism Speaks website has been classified as on the ‘high-functionality’ level on the spectrum.

This quiet lad who I had the pleasure of working with was the first time I had ever spent time with somebody with Autism. I can remember coming home and being puzzled as to what Aspergers was. So off to Google I went.

I worked with him for over a year and I observed something amazing, I understood to some extent how his mind worked. The cinema was the perfect place for him to work, it was all time orientated and there was consistency in everything he did. There was a routine and that’s what he needed. Each shift he’d clock in, be issued the time sheet for all the films coming out, then that would be it within seconds he’d be able to tell you at what time and which screen you’d have to be at next. I loved the times I worked with him as he kept me right as I can’t tell the time to save my life. Once the screen was empty he knew that we had to clean the screen as quickly as possible to get to the next screen, he’d even tell us how long we would have. Numbers were his speciality.

Over the last eight years since I met this gentle soul I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many people who also have Autism. With lots of friends who have amazing children with Autism of all different intensities and today being the beginning of Autism Awareness Week, I personally feel that even in 2017 we aren’t doing enough to raise awareness of something which a lot of parents are still going through the battle with their children’s schools to ensure they are receiving the correct education and that their different requirements are being looked after. Surely that’s a basic human right? To have the right to a good and proper education regardless if you have Autism or not?

Many people don’t understand what Autism actually is, so to help those who were in the same position as I was 8 years ago understand a little more, this is the official definition from the Official Autism website:

“Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently to other people. If you are autistic, you are autistic for life; autism is not an illness or disease and cannot be ‘cured‘. Often people feel being autistic is a fundamental aspect of their identity. Autism is a spectrum condition. All autistic people share certain difficulties, but being autistic will affect them in different ways. Some autistic people also have learning disabilities, mental health issues or other conditions, meaning people need different levels of support. All people on the autism spectrum learn and develop. With the right sort of support, all can be helped to live a more fulfilling life of their own choosing.”

With more than 1 in 100 people being diagnosed with Autism, this condition is a lot more common than many people think, with different levels on the spectrum Autism affects people differently. From the lad that I used to work with in the Cinema to my friends’ children who are again all so different to each other, yet all possess slightly similar traits there’s not one definition for what are the exact traits of Autism

It’s imperative that anybody who is thought to have Autism is diagnosed properly so that they can access the most suitable form of support possible, you can find out more about getting a diagnosis here.

What can you do this World Autism Awareness Week? The week runs from today, 27th March right up until 2nd April and the organisers hope that this will change lives. They are asking those wanting to get involved in raising money and awareness so that as many people as possible learn about autism. From quizzes to baking, walk to bucket collections the organisation wants to raise awareness until everyone understands.

If you’d like to donate to help fund research into Autism you can do so through the National Autistic Just Giving Page here

I’d absolutely love to know what you’re doing this week to raise awareness, let me know in the comment section below

 

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