Kay from Youth Disability Advocacy Network – YDAN recently delivered a presentation and workshop to the team around the advocacy, rights and inclusion of young people with a disability in WA.

A key take away for us and what we were interested by was people with a disability will need to fully research a venue they want to go to, to ensure its accessible for them. It shows the importance of a thought out website and social media to provide enough information for a person with a disability to make a decision whether to attend a venue or not.

The presentation has given the team a deeper understanding on the inclusion of young people with a disability and on the back of this we will be celebrating Autistic pride on Saturday, 18 June.

 

WHAT IS AUTISM?

Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). ‘Spectrum’ refers to the wide range of characteristics, skills and abilities that different people with Autism have. No two people are affected by Autism in exactly the same way. Every person experiences Autism differently and has a different range of strengths, abilities and individual support needs. Although the core characteristics of Autism can cause a range of challenges, it is important to recognise that they can also result in unique skills and capabilities.

Having a better understanding of the person helps everyone involved to consider why the behaviour is happening and implement more meaningful support.

CHARACTERISTICS:

Communication
People with Autism experience differences in the way they communicate and interact socially, and their behaviour may be repetitive or highly focussed.

Some people with Autism experience significant delays in developing language, while others may have an incredibly well-developed vocabulary and be able to talk about specific topics in great detail. Some people with Autism may be non-verbal or have limited speaking skills, while others express themselves mainly through talking. A person with Autism may behave in ways that are unexpected or unusual in order to communicate effectively in a situation.

People with Autism often find it difficult to recognise and understand social cues and may not instinctively know how to adjust their response to suit different social contexts.

Sensory Processing

People with Autism also tend to experience differences with their senses that can affect the way they feel about and respond to their surroundings. Autism is not a disease or illness. These sensory differences may result in unusual or unexpected behavioural responses and can be affected by a person’s sensory sensitivities and preferences, environment, overall health and stress levels at any given time.  Some people may quickly respond to just a tiny amount of sensory information (over-responsive), while others may be slower to respond because they need more sensory information (under-responsive).

STATISTICS:

  • It is estimated that 1 in 100 people in Australia have Autism. This means that if you have Autism you are not alone. And, if you do not have Autism yourself it is likely that you will meet or have already met someone who does.
  • Currently, males are 3.5 times more likely to have Autism than females (Source: ABS SDAC 2018 – Autism in Australia).

5 common misconceptions about people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder:

  1. Autism is caused by parenting style

Myth Busted: Parenting style does not cause Autism. Sometimes parents will need to adapt the environment in which the child lives in to meet the needs of their child, and this may appear unusual to those around them who are unfamiliar with Autism.

Adjustments in ‘parenting style’ may in fact be necessary to help their child cope with the situation or setting they are in.

  1. Myth: Autism is a behavioural or mental health disorder

Myth Busted: Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition. While mental illness can occur alongside Autism (like anxiety or depression), Autism is not a mental health disorder. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has reflected our evolving understanding of Autism.

Many years ago, Autism was considered a ‘psychiatric’ condition, but a growing body of research has disproved this. It is important to take time to recognise if a person with Autism also has a mental illness and support them to make the environment, they are in more comfortable for them.

  1. Myth: People with Autism aren’t capable of forming meaningful relationships and friendships

Myth Busted: People with Autism often have very strong bonds with important people in their lives. They can and do have fulfilling relationships with family, friends, partners and children.

Studies have shown that most people with Autism want to form relationships with others. For some people with Autism it can be difficult to understand social cues and navigate social interactions. It is important to recognise that seeming uninterested is not necessarily the same as being uninterested.

There are a variety of strategies that can help support social connections (like activities to develop social thinking and planned events around shared interests). Relationships are a ‘two-way street’, and success is never the responsibility of only one party.

Developing Autism understanding, can also help those without Autism to be more considerate and accepting of the differences in people with Autism, thus promoting positive social connections.

  1. Myth: People with Autism do not speak

Myth Busted: Every child and adult with Autism is different in the way they communicate. Some children may speak earlier than their typically developing peers but may have an unusual style of communication (such as overly formal speech or a strong preference to talk about particular subjects). Other children may have delayed speech or may not use words to communicate. It is important to note that there is a very wide range of skills and abilities amongst children with Autism in relation to speech, and communication overall.

It is also important to remember that even if a person is unable to speak, they still have the capacity, the need, and the right to communicate, and this needs to be supported. There are many ways to support someone with complex communication to effectively express themselves, build relationships, take part in social activities and participate in their community.

When a person’s speech does not meet all their needs, Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) strategies can be of great value. AAC strategies are offered by our therapy team at the Autism Association.

  1. Myth: All people with Autism have the same skills and difficulties

Myth Busted: Every person with Autism is unique and has different abilities and interests. Each individual with Autism will experience differences in the way they communicate, their sensory needs, and social interaction. This is why Autism is called a ‘spectrum disorder’, and why supports should be tailored to the person’s individual needs.

For further information, visit https://www.autism.org.au/

Strategies For Supporting Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

  • Establish set routines to provide a consistency and help reduce anxiety.
  • Set explicit expectations and communicate instructions concisely.
  • Deliver key information with pre-warning and allow sufficient wait time for responses.
  • Identify repetitive and restrictive interests and incorporate this within daily routines to enhance motivation for undesired tasks.
  • Incorporate visual prompts or schedules for information to be processed effectively.
  • Consider the child’s sensory needs and allow time for breaks for self-regulation. 

Strategies Implemented within the Swan Active Swim School Program

CLICK THE LINKS BELOW:

Autism Swim

Sesame Street – Julia with Autism

Amazing things happen

We are all different

Life of a 4 Year old – First friendships