World Autism Month
Celebrated in April each year, this month aims to provide an insight into autism and how it affects not only those living with it, but the people around them too.
Organised by the National Autistic Society, the month runs alongside World Autism Awareness Week (29 March – 4 April) and World Autism Awareness Day (2 April).
What is autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder which impacts a person’s ability to interact and communicate. Symptoms of autism often appear in early childhood and are identified when children don’t reach developmental milestones at the same time as their peers.
There are 700,000 people on the autism spectrum in the UK, which is more than 1 in 100. When you also include their families, autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people across the country.
Having autism affects everyday life for individuals and it’s important that we understand some of the common symptoms:
- Not understanding the feelings and thoughts of others.
- Struggling to explain their feelings.
- Typically preferring their own company over making friends.
- Feeling upset if their routine changes.
Although autism does not present itself the same way in every person, many austistic people have common strengths. These include:
- Ability to remember information for long periods of time.
- Ability to learn things in greater detail.
- Strong visual and auditory learners.
- Excel in maths, science, music or art.
Insight on autism
We caught up with some students studying supported internships at Keighley College to hear their perspectives on living with autism.
What does having autism mean to you?
Student one: “It can be positive and negative. For example, I have a good memory with subjects that I’m interested in, such as history and football. However, people can sometimes discriminate against me.”
How does it affect you in everyday life?
Jim*: “I like to stick to a routine, so I get really upset when this is interrupted.”
Are there some tasks you find more difficult?
Jim: “Yes, such as mixing with other people and making friends.”
What are some of the challenges you face and how do you overcome them?
Jim: “I find it difficult to meet deadlines as I often need more time to complete work.”
Sally*: “It’s challenging when people don’t understand what it’s like to have autism.”
What support do you get to help with your autism?
Jim: “I get some great support from the job coaches at college.”
Sally: “College offers lots of support with my autism.”
What can others do to support you?
Jim: “I appreciate people helping me when some tasks are difficult for me to do.”
What do you enjoy most about your course?
Jim: “Talking to my friends and tutors.”
Sally: “The staff are very friendly; they help me learn skills and give me new opportunities. The students are also very kind and helpful.”
How does Keighley College help with your autism?
Sally: “The staff help a lot with my autism, they always make sure to understand and meet my needs.”
What are your ambitions for the future?
Jim: “I’d love to get a job in the future.”
Sally: “My ambition is to get a job in either the sports industry or a library.”
If you’d like to get support, there are many local services available.
National Autistic Society – Keighley and Bingley
A support group for local children and adults living on the autisitc spectrum.
Free informal drop-in service funded by Bradford Council.
Parent-run group supporting families with children and young adults on the autisitic spectrum. The group covers the Airedale, Wharfedale, Bradford and Craven areas.
*These are not the student’s real names as they wished to remain anonymous.