Today marks the start of World Autism Awareness Week, with World Autism Day being celebrated on 2nd April.
But what exactly is autism, and why should autism awareness matter?
According to the National Autistic Society, autism is ‘a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.’ It’s a spectrum condition, which means that autism affects each individual differently.
However, there are several common difficulties that most autistic people are affected by in some way. These include sensitivity to physical and sensory stimuli, social and communication issues, executive dysfunction, repetitive behaviour, extreme anxiety and more. All of these traits, as well as many not listed here, are present in endless different combinations in each individual on the spectrum.
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 do we need to spread Autism Awareness?
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.
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.
People with autism are more likely to face issues like social isolation and unemployment
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.
By increasing awareness through campaigns such as World Autism Awareness Week, there’s a better chance that understanding and acceptance of autistic needs and behaviours will become more normalised in society, helping to reduce the barriers autistic people face in living happy, independent lives.
Autism Awareness and Autism Acceptance – what’s the difference?
Within the autism community, there is some debate over whether the word ‘acceptance’ or ‘awareness’ is better for raising the profile of autism and effecting change. ‘Awareness’ is a word often associated with promoting work to cure cancer or diseases. However, autism is not a disease, nor can it be cured.
On the other hand, autism awareness can be viewed as an essential first step to ensuring that autistic people and behaviours become normalised, and autism acceptance is achieved within society.
The Charity – Zetetick Housing and supported living
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.
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.