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Autism Awareness Week 2018

Autism Awareness Week is this week (26th March - 2nd April) 

We want to share our support and help raise awareness for all of those who have been diagnosed with autism, to those who are going through the diagnosis process and to those who live with and/or care for people who have autism. 

Over 700,000 people are on the autistic spectrum in the UK alone, together with their families this means that autism affects 2.8 million people in the UK. Autism is a lifelong, developmental disability which can affect how a person communicates with others as well as affecting the way in which they see the world around them. Some autistic people will also experience learning disabilities, mental health problems and other conditions, due to each case being unique, support plans will all be different. You can read more about autism in our previous blog post 'What is Autism?' here.

In the United States, it has been found that 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls are diagnosed with some form of autism. This shows that boys are much more likely than girls to be diagnosed as autistic. It was also found that one-third of autistic people remain nonverbal throughout their lives and one-third have other intellectual difficulties. 

Certain medical and mental health problems frequently accompany autism, conditions such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep problems, ADHD, anxiety and phobias. 

Tips To Help Those With Autism

For many autistic individuals, they can become overwhelmed by the world around them. This is usually due to the high intensity of their senses all firing at once and taking in too much information for them to cope with. I came across a very useful website called The National Autistic Society (NAS) which share some useful tips for helping to make the autistic peoples experience of public transport easier for them:

Many autistic people engage in physical repetitive behaviours when dealing with stressful events, such as travelling on public transport. These behaviours may be, tapping their fingers or flapping the hands. It is important that you try not to stare at them whilst they do this, as this can add to their anxiety and make their experience more difficult than it needs to be.

It is also important that you are aware of personal space, some people with autism are very sensitive to touch, meaning that the slightest brush up against them could be very overwhelming for them.

Some other useful tips, which can be applied anywhere at any time are:

If you ask a question to someone who is autistic and they do not respond or they find it difficult to maintain eye contact or get their words out, show them kindness and remove the pressure of them answering straight away, this can make them feel much more comfortable and at ease.

If you witness an autistic individual having a meltdown, meaning that they are getting overwhelmed by everything, possibly screaming, shouting or crying, try to comfort them. You can do this by asking if they are okay and whether there is anything that you can do to help them. If this does not help, just give them space and time so that they can deal with the situation that they are facing. 

Something as simple as talking clearly, having patience and avoiding last-minute changes could make a huge difference to someone who is dealing with autism. 

Caring For Someone With Autism

It is important that those who are caring for someone who is autistic make sure to look after their own needs too. It is okay to seek help when someone is under your care. 

If you are a carer of someone with autism, please make sure to get the help and support benefits that you are entitled to. As a carer you may be entitled to Carer's Allowance and those that you are caring for could be entitled to Personal Independence Payment. You can check your eligibility by asking your local authorities for a carers assessment. This assessment will help to establish what forms of support you are able to receive, including respite care.

Caring for someone can be very demanding and can, therefore, affect your health and wellbeing if you are physically sick or you feel as though you cannot cope, please do not hesitate to see your GP. 

Take a break from your caring duties from time to time, it important to look after yourself. Your local authorities or local support groups may be able to offer you professional in-home care, allowing you to have some time to yourself (this could be offered to you for free depending on your situation).

If you need some help and support you can call the Carers Direct Helpline on 0300 123 1053 between 9am-8pm Monday to Friday and 11am-4pm on weekends. This helpline can help you with the following issues and concerns:

  • Assessments
  • Benefits
  • Time off from caring
  • Home Support
  • Getting back to work or education

Another useful helpline is NAS, you can call them on 0800 800 4104 
This helpline is run by trained volunteers who are all parents of children, or adults with autism. Therefore they are aware of the situation that you may be in and can help guide you through it. They can offer you advice and guidance on many topics in relation to autism and being a carer. 

NAS can also help you to find a local support group, where you can meet other carers and other autistic individuals and share stories and support one another. Find your local support group here!

NAS run various campaigns in order to raise awareness for autism, as it is autism awareness week many people around the UK are fundraising in many different ways for NAS! If you would like to donate or do your own fundraising you can do so by clicking on the links provided!

Twitter Talk - Focusing on Autism

We will be hosting a Twitter Talk on Sunday 1st of April 2018 between 7:30pm and 9:00pm 

We will be focusing on autism, asking questions and sharing thoughts, opinions and experiences with our twitter followers! Please do not hesitate to join us, the more people we can get talking the more awareness we can raise and the more people will understand about autism. 

You can find our Twitter Page here - @SeeTheUniverse_

Some other resources are: