April is Autism Awareness Month, a time to promote awareness and acceptance of this neuro-developmental condition. Autism is not a disability, yet it may affect the way that people learn. Autism affects the way that the individual understands the world around them and how they interact with others. There are common features which are shared by people with autism, however it is a Spectrum condition meaning that their experiences and needs vary greatly.

Autism Awareness Month begins on 2nd April and is an opportunity to encourage an understanding and acceptance of the signs, symptoms and realities of what it is like to have Autism. At New Directions we support people with autism to have the best possible life. This year with the effects of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic we recognise that obstacles faced by people with Autism will be exacerbated. We provide support when needed to enable people with autism to live in their homes with as little distress as possible.

There are several key features of Autism which include:

Social Interaction: People with Autism find it hard to read and respond to other people’s feelings and intentions and to express their own emotions. This can make them appear insensitive.

Social Communication: People with Autism face challenges in understanding and recognising verbal and non-verbal communication. They find it difficult to register social cues like facial expressions, tone of voice or sarcasm etc. Many people with Autism want to make friends despite finding very difficult.

Familiarity and Routine: People with Autism often exhibit restricted and repetitive coping behaviours. These can include movements such as rocking, hand-flapping, spinning, practising rituals and repeating words and phrases.  

Intense Special Interests: This is the most common behaviour of people with Autism. They find strength in dedicating an immense amount of time to their favourite pastimes as it helps reduce stress.

Sensory Overload: Being under or over-responsive to sensory stimulation through sight, sound, touch, smell or taste can create anxiety for people with Autism. It can cause individuals to experience unpleasant feelings such as irritability, restlessness and discomfort.

There is no cure for Autism, so it remains a lifelong condition. However, by providing the right person-support to those on the Spectrum New Directions offers people with the condition the opportunity to build a positive life-path which recognises and accommodates their individual needs.