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  • Louise Cheetham

World Autism Awareness Week

This year’s World Autism Awareness Week (29 March – 4 April) feels more important than ever. It’s an opportunity to think about the society we want to live in when we leave lockdown – and the small things we can all do to make it work better for autistic children, adults and their families.

We want everyone to understand five things about autism that autistic people and families say are most important to them. These are that autistic people can:

- feel anxiety about changes or unexpected events - be under or over sensitive to sound, smells, light, taste and touch (this is called sensory sensitivity) - need time to process information, like questions or instructions - face high levels of anxiety in social situations - have difficulties communicating and interacting with others.

Almost everyone has heard of autism. But far too few people know what it’s actually like to be autistic - both the strengths and how hard life can be at times. We continue to hear from autistic people who routinely feel misunderstood, are struggling without the right support or even feel judged and mocked.

The past year has brought particular challenges for autistic people and their families, and a few positives for some. Nine in ten autistic people told the National Autistic Society that they worried about their mental health during the first lockdown, and 85% said their anxiety levels got worse.

Many things need to change if we’re to create a society that works for autistic people, starting with the Government making sure its upcoming all-age autism strategy for England is ambitious and properly funded. We all have a role to play too, by finding out more about what it’s like to be autistic and the small things we can all do to make the world a little more autism friendly.

Better understanding of autism across society, from schools to workplaces and decision makers in local and national government, would transform hundreds of thousands of lives.

Contact us if we can help your family.

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