Improving awareness about autism

Local Chris has autism which makes him highly sensitive to loud spaces.

 

AUTISM awareness month is here this April.

Being diagnosed with autism or having your child diagnosed as autistic is the beginning of a journey for families.

Each journey is unique and they will experience a very different life living with autism.

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Some of the challenges include navigating the health system and education systems.

There are calls for better representation for those with autism in the media.

Jessica is a 22-year-old woman with autism who has a lot of say about how autism is currently portrayed in the media.

“We’re not unintelligent, I’ve seen that shown in media a lot,” Jessica said.

“People make movies about us and they will make us look like we’re so incapable.

“There is no need to treat us like we’re still kids, even when we’re in our twenties.

“I have thought we would have better representation [by now] but sadly I’m sort of used to seeing that right now for people who are deemed marginalised.

“It makes people not very accepting towards me, but I hope it changes.”

Jessica hopes that one day portrayal of characters with autism will align closer to real life, and all the success that people with autism are able to achieve.

Local mum Cate Richardson, whose son Chris has autism, told News Of The Area, “Autistic children struggle in crowds, loud noise and bright lights.

“My son is a toe walker at nine and he flaps his arms and hands.

“It’s their way of releasing the stress to deal with all that is happening.

“When it is school holidays here I have to get small shopping orders or click and collect, because the noise and the crowds are very overwhelming for him.

“This is not helped by the looks and comments because the way he appears to others.”

Chris is high functioning and very smart.

“He would cope better if people just understand that people with autism are normal in most ways,” she said.

Cate is sometimes disappointed by harmful comments made around her and her son and finds it hard not to react, especially when her son hears them too.

“Chris sometimes asks ‘why people say what they do’,” Cate said.

She is hoping that some extra understanding will help.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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