Today (30 March) is the start of World Autism Week, where autistic people and charities come together to raise awareness of autism and how we can all work together to support the autistic community.
Over half of people in the UK are connected to someone who is autistic; and it is estimated that 700,000 people are autistic. During World Autism Awareness Week (30 March to 5 April) autistic people and their loved ones share their experiences alongside tips on helping an autistic person.
WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism is a lifelong, development disability which can mean autistic people are affected when communicating with people or relating to others. Autistic people will also see the world around them differently than others.
Being autistic is not a disease, and there is no cure, it simply means a person is different. The language used around autism is important in order to share knowledge, reduce stigma and discrimination.
With improved discussions around autism and the autistic spectrum, more people can learn about different forms of autism. Celebrities such as Christine and Paddy McGuinness are open and honest about parenting three autistic children, and environmental activist Greta Thunberg – with Asperger syndrome – has previously said that ‘being different is a superpower.’
Similarly, The Chase star Anne Hegerty shared that her life responds well to structure and overcrowded areas can be a source of stress. During Anne’s time on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! in 2018 awareness and understanding of Asperger syndrome and the autistic spectrum was improved.
And, Christine and Paddy McGuinness are set to further raise awareness of autism as they introduce a new character, Theo, to children’s show Daisy and Ollie.
Set to air on Thursday 2 April – on World Autism Awareness Day – Theo will become the first autistic character on the show, in the hopes it will help more children understand what makes us all unique.
Charities including the National Autistic Society have a range of stories, and experiences from autistic people. Their Stories from the Spectrum series is a fantastic tool in sharing what life is like on the autistic spectrum.
During these uncertain times, where routines are changed without notice and an overload of information, it can be challenging. Charities are coming together to share their advice on how to best support an autistic loved one, alongside tips for you, if you are on the spectrum.
We are working closely with these charities to bring you information on how to understand COVID-19 if you are autistic, or your loved one is autistic. What would you like to know?