Living with Autism

With more than 700,000 people living with autism in the UK, the National Autistic Society held an Autism Awareness Day last Sunday.

People with autism see, hear and feel the world differently. That is why World Autism Awareness Week was there, to raise awareness about autistic people’s challenges, problems, and even dreams. The event in Cardiff brought together people from all over Wales to raise awareness and to share experiences for help and support others.

Playing with bubbles of hope and imagination. Photo Credit: CNP

Playing with bubbles of hope and imagination. Photo Credit: CNP

Though the event brought serious topics up to discussions, it was more than just a bubble of hope and imgaination. With every bubble blown in the air, a child imagination was there to manifest itself in its own unique way.  Whether we like it or not, it brought us all to remind ourselves that we all have abilities and we all suffer from various disabilities in one way or another.

Varying between the spectrum of mild and severe autism, Autism Awareness Day managed to bring a smile back to many parents and children who sought help, support and guidance in their hard journey with autism.

Claire Johnson, a parent volunteer in the National Autistic Society  who has a son with autism says it was difficult for George to be diagnosed instantly with autism.”When we  realized that his speech was not developing the same way as his brother, we were initially referred to speech and initial language therapy. That’s the first time someone has mentioned autism to us .A year later, George was diagnosed as autistic,”

However, for many parents, the stages and the process of knowing that their child has autism could be a mix of relief and fear of what might await them. Acceptance and support might be the key to wash away any fears.

“I felt a bit of relief because we spent around eighteen months knowing that something is  not quite right but not knowing what it was .So at first it is a bit of relief but then it made me really sad . That process of being sad lasted for around three months,”Mrs. Johnson added.

“Then I met lots of other parents who are in similar situation.At that point , I think I came to accept his diagnosis and that is how I got involved into the National Autistic Society became a members and another charity called Thrive which run activity holiday for children with additional needs.”

“Once I found my support network , I felt a lot better,” she added.

Autism is neither a disease nor a disability. So what is it really like?

What is Autism? 

According to the National Autistic Society, autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. It is not an illness or a disease. As defined by the society, if you are autistic, you are autistic for life.

But even though the lack of communication could be a problem for some. Others often face social isolation. Social isolation seemingly is a big problem that does not only affect people having autism but also affects the whole families.

Families gathered to raise awareness about autism. Photo Credit: CNP

Families gathered to raise awareness about autism. Photo Credit: CNP

According to a  recent study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, researchers found that out nearly 40 percent of young adults with autism never saw friends and half were not receiving any phone calls or being invited to activities. Moreover, the research investigated that the reasons behind being socially isolated to include also the families. Strikingly, the study concluded that 28 percent of young adults with autism have no social contact at all.

Despite all their problems, some autistic people have proved to manage all difficulties they face and to absolutely astound all people around.

Rhys Jenkins,25, holds an MA in autism. Although having autism himself, this did not prevent him from pursuing his studies or fulfilling his aspirations.

Jenkins who proudly holds the title of autism ambassador has dedciated himself and his time to help people with autism.”Ever since my masters”, he said, “I just focused on what I can do to help others and whether there are any jobs out there in which I can fully express my talent”

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  • Click below to watch part of the interview with Lynda Morgan, a parent volunteer in the in the National Autistic Society.

     Sian Jones,a parent of an autistic child , says:

    It is social isolation. People don’t understand autism. They don’t see it as a disability. They don’t understand the social side of it. It is challenging”

     

     

    Children with autism love caricatures.

     

    Photo Credit:CNP

    Photos Credit:CNP