Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects individuals in various ways, impacting their social interaction, communication, and behavior. It is characterized by a wide range of symptoms and can vary in severity, with each person experiencing autism uniquely. While the exact causes of autism are still being researched, it is widely believed to result from a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Autism is a lifelong condition, and early diagnosis and intervention are crucial for individuals with autism to receive appropriate support and resources. Despite the challenges associated with autism, individuals on the spectrum often possess unique strengths and abilities, and with understanding, acceptance, and inclusive environments, they can lead fulfilling and meaningful lives.
So here are the top 12 facts about autism everyone needs to know.
1. Autism is a Neurological Developmental Condition, which means our brains develop differently; some parts are faster and some parts are slower.
2. Autism affects every person differently. If you’ve met one person on the spectrum, you’ve met one person on the spectrum. It seems everything I do is either too much or not enough or both. Gifts in one area may come with serious challenges in another.
3. Autism is not a linear scale. This is one of the biggest misconceptions. We are not more or less autistic, higher or lower functioning. We are autistic in different ways, and we each have different support needs. The ISD levels one, two, and three refer to the level of support a person needs, not their ability to function if this support is in place.
4. We are different (not less) in 3 main areas. My special interests mean that I see the world differently. My sensory sensitivities mean I feel the world differently. And the way I think and process information means I connect with the world differently.
5. We often hide our Autistic traits. From a young age, society teaches us that difference is bad, and so for survival, we learn to hide our true selves, masking, camouflaging, and passing. When we appear normal on the outside, it’s not because we have ceased to be autistic, it’s because we no longer allow you to see it.
6. You are NOT a little bit Autistic! Having some autistic traits does not make you a little bit autistic, any more than being sad from time to time makes you a little bit clinically depressed. Equating the two invalidates my experience of trying my whole life to explain my difference to others and not being believed.
7. We are incredibly diverse (and break all your stereotypes). Autistic people are not the same as each other. What binds us together is the shared experience of being the odd one out. We are every age, every gender, every culture, every profession. Knowing I’m autistic tells you only one thing, that I do not fit into a box and, therefore, all your assumptions must be challenged.
8. You don’t grow OUT of Autism (you grow into Autism). I learn and grow just like everyone else. So while autism is a life-long condition, something I was born with and something that will always be a part of me, I’m constantly finding new and better ways to manage life and the challenges it brings. I’m more and more myself each day.
9. You cannot cure Autism. It’s who I am! Autism is not a disease or a psychological issue; therefore, you can’t cure it any more than you can cure being tall or having long arms. That said, autism commonly has co-occurring conditions which may require their own treatment. The message here though is that I am not a broken neurotypical person, I am autistic. It’s how my brain is wired, it’s weaved through every aspect of my personality, and it makes me who I am.
10. Autism is a disability (but many of us don’t like that word!). Some everyday tasks are difficult or even impossible for me, but there are so many things that I can do that you can’t do, so why am I the one with the disability? The answer is simple because there’s more of you and only one of me.
11. We Do want to make friends! Of course, I want friends, just not on your terms. Not if it means I’m not allowed to be myself and I can’t do the things I like to do. I want friends who will let me be me and love me for it.
12. Being different is not always easy. I get bullied, I get picked last, I get left out, and I get asked to leave groups because I’m not a good fit. I can’t be like everyone else even if I wanted to, and it’s easy to get very angry in an unfair world.
But you can make a big difference. You can talk to me, interact with me, let me join in, or let me sit on the sidelines without joining in. Invite me without the pressure to say yes. Don’t expect me to be normal, just let me be me, and don’t ask me to leave. Make the world a better place for autistic people. Don’t force me to fit in. Include me while I’m different.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this article, and please share this message as part of Autism Acceptance Month.
Sharing Is Caring!