Autism Awareness – What exactly is Autism?
According to the National Autistic Society, autism is ‘a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.’ It is considered a spectrum condition because it’s different for every autistic person and affects each individual differently – some autistic people might need more support than others to live the lives they want to lead. The way autism affects you can change as you grow and develop, and experience different environments.
Autistic people may share the following difficulties:
- Social communication and social interaction challenges
- Repetitive and restrictive behaviour
- Over- and under-sensitivity to light, sound, taste or touch
- Highly focused interests or hobbies
- Extreme anxiety
- Meltdowns and shutdowns
All of these traits, as well as many not listed here, are present in endless different combinations in each individual on the spectrum. You can find more information here.
One of our volunteers living with autism shares her experience:
“As someone who is on the spectrum, I have personal experience of its diversity. I am able to live almost as independently as other adults my age, and I generally present as ‘neurotypical.’ At the same time, I also experience some of the issues that autistic people who benefit from Zetetick Housing’s services face, including sensory sensitivity, communication and processing issues, and a need for routine.”
Why is Autism Awareness important?
It’s important to spread autism awareness because people with autism face significant barriers in society to living the happy, independent lives that neurotypical people (people without a developmental disorder, such as autism or ADHD) often take for granted.
People with autism are more likely to face social isolation, unemployment and a range of other issues, due to the lack of understanding in society that some people think and process information differently.
For example, the workplace can present many difficulties for autistic people, ranging from complex social situations to loud and jarring physical surroundings that are unforgiving to people with sensory issues. A lack of autism awareness means that employers don’t understand how autistic people can be affected by these barriers, because they simply don’t exist for neurotypical people.
Zetetick Housing – Support to live independently
There are many charities in the UK that offer support services aiming to improve the lives of people with autism – Zetetick Housing is one of these, providing quality specialised housing for supported living to people with complex needs or learning disabilities, including people with autism.
75% of autistic adults live with their parents , but with Zetetick’s model of best practice supported living, adults with autism or similar disabilities can live in a home of their own that they love, with access to the support they need to live independently within their communities.
Every person on the autism spectrum is different, which is why Zetetick take a flexible approach to housing. By sourcing property from the private rental market, Zetetick is able to find housing suited to each tenant’s desires as well as their support needs. You can find out more about supported living here!
It can be very difficult for some autistic people to manage all of the responsibilities that come with living in your own home, and this often restricts their options when it comes to housing. However, Zetetick’s intensive housing management takes the pressure off of our tenants – for example, we take responsibility for rent payments and Zetetick’s in-house maintenance team can easily be reached through our website to make any repairs.
A chance to celebrate – thriving with autism
Increasing autism awareness through campaigns – such as Autism Acceptance Month in April – is incredibly important to improve understanding of autistic needs and behaviours so that they will become more accepted within society, helping to reduce the barriers autistic people face in living happy, independent lives.
April also celebrates World Autism Awareness Day 2022 on 2nd April (which is organised by the United Nations and aims to raise awareness of autism and highlight what can be done to improve the quality of life for autistic people), as well as World Autism Acceptance Week from 28th March – 3rd April.
Check out some of the great autism awareness resources below for further information:
It’s also great to see that a whole host of celebrities are speaking publicly about living with autism:
Christine McGuinness – the model married to TV presenter Paddy McGuinness announced her autism diagnosis in 2021 at the age of 33. She described the diagnosis as a ‘huge relief’ and has declared herself ‘autistic and proud’.
Melanie Sykes – the TV presenter announced her diagnosis at the age of 51 in November 2021. She explained on social media how her diagnosis was ‘life-changing’ and ‘life-affirming’ and said, “I cannot begin to tell you the sense of relief this is for me and how much I celebrate this diagnosis. I now have a deeper understanding of myself, my life, and the things I have endured.”
She went on to discuss the difficulties she faced while working in television, her sensitivities as well as her memory problems.
Anne Hegerty – English quizzer starring on ITV’s The Chase discovered that she had autism at the age of 45. Anne has said that although she lives with certain sensory issues caused by autism, she believes it makes her a better quizzer.
Wentworth Miller – Hollywood actor of Prison Break fame discovered that he had autism during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic and wants to educate himself on the condition, saying: “I don’t know enough about autism. (There’s a lot to know.) Right now my work looks like evolving my understanding. Re-examining 5 decades of lived experience thru a new lens…”
Just a few amazing examples that neurodiversity really doesn’t hold you back in life.
How can you help?
The more people know about autism and how it can affect people, the better. By sharing this article on social media, you can to help spread the word and promote autism awareness, as well as helping Zetetick Housing to reach more people in need of our help to find quality supported living housing. autism awareness autism awareness autism awareness