With the 2nd of April just having gone I have been thinking how many people actually understand what autism is and know how best to help or support a colleague who has autism.
What is autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a mental condition that is present from early childhood. It is characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people, and using language . ASD is often referred to as a hidden disability, this being down to the fact that people with the condition don’t appear to have any obvious differences from people without the condition.
Along the autism spectrum there are other conditions such as Asperger Syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance. The latter is a less well known condition in which the sufferer cannot process direct instruction normally, which causes significant problems in social and learning situations.
As these conditions are not physically noticeable, many people suffer bullying and harassment, therefore many who have the condition dislike telling people about their condition, which can result in them not accessing the support that they need. This in turn can expose them to even more bullying and harassment and can ultimately affect their health and cause them to become even more withdrawn and in many cases they can lose their job . People with Asperger Syndrome and high functioning autism can very often be lacking in communication and interaction skills, but they commonly have increased intelligence. Often they can become focused on a topic they find interesting; this could be something like trees, or they might like trains and will know in depth details about the subject and enthusiastically talk about them for as long as people will listen.
How does this affect people? There are three main areas where difficulties with social interaction can occur. These are difficultly with social communication, social interaction and social imagination. People along the autistic spectrum have trouble understanding empathy; they may not understand things like knowing when they have gone too far in a social situation or the effects that their behaviour is having on others’ perception of them.
Only 15% of people who have autism are in full time education even though 79% of autistic people on benefits would rather be in employment. Most of all they need the right support and the opportunity to make ambition a reality. There are companies who offer training on how best to help and support people with ASD.
For more information about autism spectrum disorder I will leave a couple of helpful links-