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World Autism Day!

  • By Abi Hart
  • 28th March 2023

World Autism Day occurs every year on the 2nd of April and aims to raise awareness about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and to promote greater understanding and acceptance of people with ASD.

The day was created by the United Nations in 2007 to encourage member states to take measures to raise awareness about autism throughout the world, and is now celebrated worldwide.

What is Autism?

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world. More than 1 in 100 people are on the autistic spectrum and there are around 700,000 autistic adults and children in the UK.

Autism is a spectrum disorder meaning that affects different people differently. People with autism may:

  • Find it hard to communicate and interact with other people.
  • Find it hard to understand how people think or feel.
  • Find bright lights and loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable.
  • Take longer to understand information.
  • Get anxious about unfamiliar situations and social events.

The definition of autism has changed over the decades and could still change in future. The definition of autism has changed over the decades and could still change in future years as we understand more. Autism exists as a spectrum, and being autistic can look different for all individuals.’

The exact cause of autism is still unknown, but research suggests that it is a combination of genetic and environmental factors that influence brain development.

Diagnosis of Autism

Diagnosing autism can be a complex process, and it is typically done through a comprehensive evaluation that includes a developmental assessment, medical evaluation, and standardized screening tools.

Doctors and other health professionals who specialize in diagnosing and treating autism are typically involved in the process.

The diagnostic criteria for autism has changed over the years, and the most recent version is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5). According to the DSM-5, individuals with autism must exhibit persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as well as restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.

Supporting Children with Autism

Being autistic does not mean that you have an illness, it simply means that your brain works in a different way to other people. Being autistic does not stop you living a good life and like everyone, autistic people have things they are good at as well as things they find difficult.

There are many ways to support children with autism, and it is important to remember that every child is unique and may require different types and levels of support. Here are some general tips for supporting children with autism:

  1. Learn about autism: The more you know about autism, the better equipped you will be to support children with autism. There are many resources available, including books, websites, and support groups.
  2. Create a structured environment: Children with autism often thrive in structured environments that provide routine and predictability. Consistent routines and visual schedules can help them feel more secure and reduce anxiety.
  3. Use visual supports: Many children with autism are visual learners and benefit from the use of visual supports, such as pictures, symbols, and written instructions.
  4. Communicate clearly: Children with autism may have difficulty understanding social cues and nonverbal communication. It is important to communicate clearly and directly, using simple language and concrete examples.
  5. Provide sensory support: Many children with autism have sensory processing difficulties and may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory input. Providing sensory supports, such as noise-cancelling headphones or weighted blankets, can help them feel more comfortable and regulated.

World Autism Day is an important reminder of the need for greater awareness and acceptance of people with autism. By learning about autism and supporting children with autism, we can help create a more inclusive and supportive world for everyone.

If your child is struggling with autism, or any other learning disability please don’t hesitate to contact us. We offer services such as youth clubs and family support and are on hand to provide practical advice and emotional support.

Leeds Mencap

The Vinery Centre | 20 Vinery Terrace | Leeds | LS9 9LU

Phone: 0113 235 1331

Web: www.leedsmencap.org.uk

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