Current Hot Topic for March 2018
Challenging the Stigma - World Autism Awareness Week
It’s World Autism Awareness Week 26th March to 2nd April. Around 700,000 people in the UK are on the autism spectrum. Together with their families, this means autism is a part of daily life for 2.8 million people. Autism is a lifelong condition that affects social interaction, communication, interests and behaviour.
Autism is on a spectrum and is often called Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autistic Spectrum Condition (ASC). This means that even though people with ASD have the same type of difficulties some of them are more affected by the level of their difficulties than others. People with autism may also be affected by other conditions as well as ASD.
Watch this short animation clip to gain an understanding of what it’s like living with Autism. This film aims to raise awareness among non-autistic audiences, to stimulate understanding, tolerance and acceptance.
Below is the story of one particular person, Marsha England and her experiences.
“I was diagnosed a month ago with the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). I didn't take it as bad news. It is on the contrary a relief to know there's a name for my peculiarities. I can't count the number of times I thought of myself as an alien from another planet to this world. Finding out at the age of 58 was like finding out the name of the street I had been living on for over five decades.
My suspicions were first raised some time after I started working with special education students in my hometown school district. Many times, I would observe a student's behaviour and I'd be moved to tears. I saw someofmeinhimorher.Iwasdrawnto working in autism units, but I didn't know why until now.
Challenging the Stigma World Autism Awareness Week
A 12-year-old girl was the lighthouse to my arriving at a diagnosis. She is autistic with practically no verbal skills. In class, she frequently talks to herself. It is a language known only to her. She'll sometimes get excited with whatever the story is playing in her mind that she'll holler and/or skip across the room. Watching her took me back 50 years to another girl who did such but just not in the middle of a classroom. She knew she was in a make-believe world of her own making. She wasn't the first student whose behaviour reminded me of my own, but it so closely matched that I was prompted to take action.
I started doing research on the Internet about the autism spectrum. The various autistic online tests had basically the same results -- more likely than not I was living on the spectrum. I got up the courage to see my doctor and confide in him. I also followed up with special education teachers whom I trust about my diagnosis. They were SUPER about it. I am fortunate to have contact with compassionate professionals who have expertise dealing with autistic children on the spectrum. I asked them questions about things I do, or did as a child, if it was typical for autistic individuals or not. I didn't tell them anything that didn't have a familiar ring to it. They could have finished my sentences.”
You can read more about Marsha’s story at
We asked young people with autism “what would make school better?”
58% choose “if teachers understood autism”
37% choose “if other students understood autism”