Last year I wrote a short story for a competition about a mother trying to be Superwoman for her young son with autism. I will post said story on here soon. People said some very nice things about the story, but what struck me more was how many people said ‘you know, I read your story and realised that I don’t know very much about autism at all.’ And so my brain starting thinking about that.
I work with adults with autism, I know quite a lot about autism, and I always want to know more. I remember when I first entered training and read books about autism, people said there would never be an end to the learning because there is always something more to know. I didn’t really believe them. However I quickly realised that this was a very ignorant and fairly arrogant point of view. Since I started work where I am I have learnt that there never will be an end to my training. The length and breadth of the autism spectrum is a long and wide as humanity itself.
That said, however, I do know quite a lot about autism and I have found that my mind loves to work things out. I love the challenge of searching for solutions and answers to a problem or a stumbling block for someone with autism. I love the sense of achievement when I see that something I and my colleagues have figured out and embedded strategies for allows someone to go through their day with less anxiety and less confusion.
I’ve also realised that in spite of some very good (and unfortunately some not so good) books and films about autism in all its forms (and I may review some of them at a later date) there still remain huge numbers of people who know very little about the spectrum. I once came across this t-shirt which I think is just great:
For me, this sums up autism for a lot of people. They don’t know about it or understand it and so it’s scary and un-nerving. And I accept that. Autism was un-nerving for me too until I got to know more. The problem is when lack of knowledge in the right places means all these people with autism don’t get the right support, help, benefits or accommodation. In the related articles below there is one from not that long ago about the damage that can be caused when social workers don’t know enough about autism to find the right services for their case load. I think I’d be so bold as to add that on top of this there is the problem of social workers having case loads that are far too big and so they can’t take the time to get to know anyone properly. But this would lead on to a whole different debate that is maybe best left for another day. I would definitely recommend the link to Temple Grandin talking The Autistic Brain. She is excellent.
For now I will just leave with the promise of more autism blogs soon. I will tell you what I know about how autism affects people, about how it’s different in each individual, about sensory processing, about teaching strategies and anything else I can think of. I hope you find it at least a little bit as interesting as I do.
- Autistic adults ‘failed by social services’ (centrallobby.politicshome.com)
- The Tech Industry’s Asperger Problem: Affliction or Insult?
- Temple Grandin: The Autistic Brain (fora.tv)
- Autism Awareness around the World (guardianlv.com)
- Care system failing people with autism, says charity (guardian.co.uk)