World Autism Awareness Day is being marked today, April 2.
But, what is Autism?
It is a complex question with many definitions, opinions and answers.
The Oxford Dictionary defines Autism as “a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.”
Irish Health, in their website, explains that it first emerges in early childhood, when the child is first developing social and interpersonal skills. People with autism often find the world a confusing place and can become trapped in behaviour patterns that may seem strange or obsessive while attempting to find the meaning in it.
Even though there is no cure yet found for this condition, with early diagnosis and special education, children with autism are able to improve their social and communication skills.
Numbers that matter
A new survey, commissioned by an autism advocacy group AsIAm, has found that there is strong positive support for autistic people in schools, employment and society generally.
The Attitudes to Autism Survey 2019 found that 61% of people (out of a 1000 adults sample) believe mainstream schools should be responsible for the education of autistic people.
Half of working adults feel that autistic people could work in a job like theirs, with this proportion being higher among those over 35.
Just 5% of people say they do not think autistic people could get married and establish families.
However, for Adam Harris, CEO of AsIAm, the real problem comes with the poor government efforts to include autistic people. He says, “over 85% of autistic people are under or unemployed, autistic people are up to 9 times more likely to die by suicide.”
Irish people show strong positive support for autistic people in schools, employment and society generally but concede that their level of knowledge of the condition is inadequate, according to new research commissioned by AsIAm for World Autism Month. https://t.co/QJH0Ugzcsx
— AsIAm.ie (@AsIAmIreland) April 2, 2019
The Irish Society for Autism is the longest established specialist service for people with Autism in Ireland. As well as, AsIAm, they are working to build a more inclusive Ireland for the autism community. Both organisations are bringing positive changes to the lives of those affected by autism. They raise awareness, educate and counsel families, schools and the Irish society in general.
Educating ourselves about autism will lead to acceptance. So today we are encouraging our readers to get involved, donate to organisations, read about the topic or even watch a movie.
Here some suggestions:
If you are a father, mother, teacher or guardian of children and young people with Special Educational Needs, please take a look at this PDF, which is a Special Needs Assistant (SNA) Scheme pamphlet.
If you are feeling like watching a tv show we have two options for you: The Good Doctor and The A Word. The first is an ABC Studios production about a young surgeon with autism and Savant syndrome, who is recruited into the surgical unit of a prestigious hospital. Written by Ahmet Kozan.
And the second is a BBC drama Written by Tom Daly: the Hughes family are like any other family; until their youngest son is diagnosed with autism and they don’t feel like every other family anymore.
Also, there is This Is Nicholas, an Irish Documentary about the life of Nicholas Ryan-Purcell, who was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome aged thirteen. The documentary film chronicles the personal experience of living with Asperger’s Syndrome and autism spectrum disorder but also touches on depression.
Hope you found the info useful and help to spread the word on World Autism Awareness Day!
Featured image: Jesper Sehested / pluslexia.com