What is autism?

So what is autism?

The National Autistic Society has explained it here: https://www.autism.org.uk/about/what-is/asd.aspx

For me, autism is different neurological wiring to that of a typical, or should I say neurotypical person.

Some people speak about autism as though it is an illness and that somehow autism makes an individual inferior.

Autism can bring with it complications when trying to fit in to a mostly neurotypical world, but this just begs the question whether maybe the world around us needs to change to accommodate neurodiversity. This way, everybody can thrive.

There have also been links to particular illnesses and autism, but we can explore this in a future post.

Children with all kinds of SEN, including autism, tend to struggle to ‘fit in’ seamlessly to the school system, but again I have to question whether the problem here is that the system needs an overhaul rather than suggesting that these children are the problem. This is something else I would like to explore in another post. If the curriculum and school environment were to change, would we need the same interventions for SEN children? I can hear people screaming ‘funding’ at me, but our current system doesn’t appear to be working all that well.

I’ve been told that so many children are being flagged up with additional needs, that the workload for professionals involved in diagnosis are overwhelmed, and naturally funding is an issue when trying to organise support.

Do we have to provide support for every individual or can we try a new approach to accommodate everybody at the same time?

I would also like to explore the diagnosis process in a future post, but for now I will say that the process is long, and there are so many children not qualifying for the help they so sorely need and deserve.

It’s a shame that people focus on the negatives as there are also lots of benefits to being autistic. I think the media has played a huge part in this, but again I will revisit this in a future post.

The ability to hyperfocus on areas of interest and obsess over everything they do, can make autistic people very knowledgeable and efficient in any task or line of work undertaken.

I was asked whether I was worried that my children may be autistic. My concern was about their experience growing up and how they would be perceived by others. I was worried how they would fit in at school and how life would be a little trickier for me as a parent.

However, the children being autistic didn’t concern me. I am confident that long term, I can teach the children the tools they need to function in this world, and I believe that with the right support they will be fully functional, well balanced and successful adults. The main challenges, I believe, are going to be experienced through childhood. And I am not looking forward to their teenage years, but what parent does?

It was believed that there are three types of autism.

Now, however, it is just referred to as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder…I still have some issues with the terms that make autism sound like a disorder or illness).

My understanding for this change in terms is that people were trying to define autism in terms of low functionIng and high functioning…like it is black, white and linear.

It was assumed that non verbal autistics were ‘low functioning’. I read a story about an autistic person who was non verbal and therefore treated like a child. They were read children’s books and spoken to in simple terms. With recent technological advances, this person was given equipment through which they could communicate, and it became obvious very quickly that this person was extremely intelligent.

How awful must that have been, to have had thoughts in your head that you couldn’t get out…to understand completely what people were saying but having no way to communicate…to be read children’s stories when you really wanted to get your hands on a novel?

There is so much more to say but my youngest is having a huge meltdown because Daddy has gone to work so I must dash.

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