What is Autism?
Autism is a neurological difference that affects the way we communicate and experience the world around us.
Autistic people can have difficulties with social interaction, communication and processing.
They can also be restricted by repetitive behaviours.
Autism What Is It?
Autism What Is It?
Being autistic isn’t an illness or disease. It just means your brain works differently from other peoples. But just like them, you will have different skills and weaknesses. You may need support to help with certain things.
Help & Support For Autistic People
I need support with lots of things but you probably wouldn’t know it! I regularly set fire to the kitchen (I’m not a pyromaniac!) and I can’t manage finances but there are so many other things I need help and support with too.
You are born autistic so it doesn’t matter if you are diagnosed at 2 or 32 you’ve been autistic your whole life.
Autism What Causes It?
There isn’t a solid answer for this but it is thought autism runs in families which makes sense to me as in our house 3/4 of us are diagnosed.
Genetic mutations, fragile x and other genetic disorders are also thought to be involved.
Would you like to know what doesn’t cause autism?
Bad Parenting Does Not Cause Autism
Autism Is Not Caused By Bad Parenting
If I had a pound for every person I have spoken to who has been accused of bad parenting when their kids are autistic I’d be rich! This happened to me too many years ago when I was advised to go on the triple P parenting course because clearly, it was my parenting that was making my eldest “naughty”. Fast forward 12 years and those people will be eating their hats.
For those who struggle with idioms (which I do) eat your hat means that I have proven them wrong … I think!
Vaccinations Do Not Cause Autism
Autism Is Not Caused By Vaccines
Vaccines do not cause autism. Vaccines cause irradiation of disease. Which we have kind of seen this in our lifetime. Polio used to be a very common disabling and life treating illness that would spread easily from person to person. Do you know anyone who has had polio? Because it used to be very common and lots of people died from it.
I asked my eldest Jamie what their thoughts on this subject were and they said “even if vaccines caused autism they’d rather be autistic than dead!”
Diet Does Not Cause Autism
Autism Is Not Caused By Diet
The food you eat does not cause autism and there are no diets to “cure” autism. Eating healthy is beneficial to everyone but eating can be an issue for people with sensory processing difficulties. I can however tell you that too much Gluten certainly didn’t make me autistic.
But you don’t look autistic?
What does autism look like?
I assume people expect us to look abnormal? I can’t quite work out what we are supposed to look like but obviously not like me?
Well, I am autistic and this is how I look!
But isn’t everyone a little bit autistic?
Is Everyone Autistic?
No No No, Karen! (Sorry if you’re called Karen).
Some non-autistic people might have some autistic traits but that doesn’t make them autistic. I’m overweight but I’m not a little bit pregnant. You either are or you aren’t and while we are on the subject there isn’t high and low functioning autism.
Autism Is Different For Everyone
We will all have different struggles but this can change daily and our support needs change often. For example, I don’t set the kitchen on fire every day it’s just some days. That doesn’t mean I’m high functioning on Monday, Wednesday & Friday but low functioning on the other days. It’s a spectrum it changes. When I’m stressed or overloaded I can become non-verbal and guess what? sometimes I forget to go to the toilet and I have an accident!
Person First & Identity First Language
Person First or Identity First Language?
Let’s touch a little bit on language, there is something called person-first language and something called identity-first language. Neither of these is right or wrong it is all down to personal preference.
Using Identity first language “I am an autistic person”
Using Person first language “I have autism”
Here’s a great video to help you understand more from Kit Autie on YouTube
Personally, I don’t Have Autism
My preference is identity-first language, I am autistic I don’t have autism. You’ll find that the majority of autistic people prefer identity-first language but not all. It’s a hard one to get right. It doesn’t upset me if you say I have autism because that’s not the kind of person I am. If you don’t know me you can’t possibly know my preferences so don’t worry if you get it wrong because I’ll tell you and hope that you’ll respect that. If I say you‘re autistic but you prefer me to say you have autism I will respect that too and I will learn that through open conversation.
Why Are People Always Talking About Logos And Autism?
What About Autism Logo’s?
The same comes to the logo that people use to represent autism. Many years ago … 1963 to be exact the puzzle piece was used by the national autistic society here in the UK, it was later adopted by autism speaks in the USA and used in some massive campaigns. This led to the puzzle piece and the colour blue being the associated colour and logo for autism.
So What’s The Problem?
But the problem for many autistic people is that the Autism Speaks campaigns were particularly negative and problematic to autistic people. For this reason, many autistic people are offended by the puzzle piece and the colour blue. Again this isn’t everyone. Some people have reclaimed the puzzle piece for themselves. But most autistic people do prefer the infinity symbol which is the symbol for neurodiversity.
What Else Could People Do For Autism Awareness?
April is autism awareness month and a large number of the autistic community wear “red instead” and prefer to raise autism acceptance and understanding rather than just awareness. There is definitely more autism awareness now than there was 10 years ago. But there is still so much more to be done on awareness, acceptance, understanding and inclusion. This is why it is important to listen to autistic people because if you’re a parent of an autistic child they will eventually be an autistic adult just like us.
Learning From My Mistakes
Learning From Mistakes Is Really Important
We all make mistakes and get things wrong. I have used the puzzle piece and I have used the wrong language but the important thing is I listened and learned (mainly from Jamie) and I moved forward. You’ve heard the saying “learn from your mistakes”. It’s not a bad saying and it actually makes sense! So listen and learn, be respectful and kind. If you have any questions ask, if you’re thinking it then you’re not the only one!
You can also check out our 5 Top Autism Blogs & Podcasts Here