Across this week (26 March – 2 April) schools, workplaces and individuals will be taking part in raising awareness for autistic people and their friends and family. Education on autism has increased in recent years but more understanding is still needed before everyone knows what being autistic really means.
What is autism?
Autism is non-discriminatory and can affect anyone, although there are more autistic men than women. The lifelong, developmental disability affects how people can communicate or relate with others, including how they see and experience the world around them.
Seeing, hearing and feeling the world differently to others means many non-autistic people don’t fully understand how an autistic person experiences daily life. For example, going to a supermarket with bright lights, noise and lots of people can be sensory overload for an autistic person making it a really challenging experience. Increased understanding of autism has led to many leading supermarkets holding Autism Hours – where the lights are dimmed, the music is turned down and there are less customers – but there is still more that needs to be done.
World Autism Awareness Week works to promote autism to spread knowledge and raise funds for vital support. With around 700,000 autistic people living in the UK – or more than 1 in 100 people – it is time that autism came with better understanding.
A study from the National Autistic Society in 2017 revealed that 79% of autistic people and 70% of parents felt socially isolated, and 64% of autistic people and their families avoid going out to the shops. Attitudes towards autism need to change in order for autistic people to feel comfortable in public environments – this is where World Autism Awareness Week comes in.
This year people can get involved in several ways to fundraise for increased autism awareness. From raising money in your own unique way with a dress down day, bake sale or getting involved with the National Autistic Society’s Night Walk or their brand new virtual challenge event, 7k for 700k.
There is still time to get involved with World Autism Awareness Week by getting your hands on a free fundraising pack from the National Autistic Society.