The annual World Autism Awareness Day is upon us and for a while news outlets and social media seemingly cares about autism. There are pretty graphics and inspirational quotes being broadcast on Twitter to inform and entertain the reader. This is wonderful and sincerely appreciated. But what of tomorrow?
Autism, and disabilities in general, are often hidden from view for the other 364.25 days of the year… except for the millions of people around the world who are on the spectrum and for the millions more who look after them. Both my sons have autism, as well as complex special needs, and the condition makes everyday just a little bit harder than it should be. Loud noises need to be anticipated and managed, apologies and explanations need to issued for invasions into people’s personal space, and hours are spent motionless and fixated on all flashing lights in every shop window at Christmas time. Autism is a blanket term which covers a wide range of sensory issues and behaviours. Some forms are manageable while others will find it completely debilitating. Most of us can adapt to our surrounds, but this is not the case for many people with autism.
As education professional, my challenge to you is two fold:
Firstly, use the time you would have used to make your pretty graphic or inspirational quote for World Autism Awareness Day on social media and read up on the latest research and techniques about autism. Don’t assume you know it all, as no one truly does, and the research is moving fast. A good place to start is http://www.autism.org.uk. Then share something new you have learnt that you didn’t know before.
Secondary, take your autism awareness beyond just today. Even if there is no-one in your class or in your life with autism now, there will be one day. Make just a few moments for someone with autism a little easier by understanding and adapting our world for them.
Now, if you will excuse me, I have some research to do…