There has been a growing awareness concerning Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or, as it is commonly referred to Autism, for a number of years now. Once upon a time, most people would have associated Autism with a child, unable to communicate, rocking in corner, perhaps humming over and over again to themselves and maybe even banging their head incesssantly or such like. Eventually researchers discovered that there are a number of people who seem to function well in the world but exhibit clear Autistic traits, albeit they were usually thought of as 'odd' in some way and they, almost by default, suffered from Anxiety and/or Depression and frequently regular breakdowns.They are referred to as 'High Functioning'.
Autism has always been called Autism SPECTRUM disorder (although there are many who now believe it is more accurately referred to as an abnormality rather than a disorder). This is because Autisitcs can present with a difference in severity of Autistic behaviours and characteristics. What was required, in the face of these discoveries, is that the Spectrum needed to be extended - a great deal.
a) Lack of knowledge concerning what Autism actually is.
However, in reality, there is still much ignorance regarding Autism. It is frequently confused with other behavioural disorders such as Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), Dyslexia, Dyspraxia, Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), Attachment Disorder and so forth. This is not helped by the fact that Autistics frequently suffer from some other form of these other disorders as well. It shares the common problem that the symptoms, attitudes and responses occasioned by any of these disorders is treated as disruptive, anti-social or challenging behaviour.
This is an enormous shame. High Functioning Autisitics mainly present with the diagnostic subsets of Asperger's Syndrome (AS) or Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and are, almost by definition, of above average intelligence and have a set of skills and attributes which are actually superior to those without Autism, commonly referred to as 'Neuro-typicals' or, simply, NTs. The chief obstacles that they face are:
b) General ignorance concerning the behaviours, reactions and responses that Autistics will demonstrate.
c) A subsequent deficit in adapting school or work situations to accommodate the Autistic person and help them to exercise their special skills and abilities and, rather than be a drain on resources, to be an asset to their school or workplace.
d) Lack of understanding of the challenges and difficulties that the Autistic faces in simply living in a 'normal' environment day-to-day.
For example, a typical set of problems that is faced by someone with Asperger's Syndrome is that people (and this can even mean Doctor's) will say such things as "You don't look Autistic" or "You can't be Autistic, you give good eye contact". In the latter case we have the common absence of a basic fact concerning High Fnctioning Autistics - what comes naturally to NTs does not come naturally to Autistics, BUT they learn
how to conduct themselves in society. This learning ability is both an advantage and a disadvantage. An advantage in that it helps them to cope in, what is to them, a confusing, scary and even slightly hostile world. A disadvantage because it comes at the cost of 'burn out' from maintaining these behaviours and also because, as noted above, their condition will not be recognised and they do not receive help in those areas that they will never be able to change.
The answer to these problems is Autism Awareness. It is not simply for those that deal, in some part, with Autistic people. It is highly likely that any organisation will have, at some time, an Autistic person on the staff. It is worth noting that many people with Autism do not know they have it and simply think they have personal difficulties and 'hang-ups' and soldier on often creating consternation or frustration in their teachers or colleagues. Autism awareness should be an important component of any organisation, because it would prevent such situations and turn that 'difficult person' into a valued and valuable member of the class or team.
Milestones offers a short training course in Autism Awareness of 3 hours which will cover all these issues. It also intends to answer questions on not just Autism but its related behavioural and developmental disorders. It is suitable for schools, workplaces, volunteer groups or, indeed, any institution or organisation.
We will be happy to discuss conducting this training at your organisation. Simply e-mail to us your interest from the Contact Us Page.
A visit to our Fees and Payment Page may also be useful.
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