April is World Autism Awareness Month; this is a subject that is important to me, as I am myself autistic. I thought I would mark the start of the month by writing about five important things that I think people should know about people on the autism spectrum.
We’re born with autism, and we can’t grow out of it
Even if we are only diagnosed later in life- as I was- autism is a neurological disorder that we are born with. In addition, we can’t outgrow it; our brains are always going to process information differently than everyone else. The most that will change is that we will learn new ways to adapt.
Autism is a spectrum
The formal diagnosis is “autism spectrum disorder”; the term “spectrum” applies not only to the disorder itself but also to the population it affects. There are more people with autism than we might know; both adults and children can be diagnosed as being on the spectrum. There is also a gender disparity; males are more likely to be diagnosed than females.
Autistic people think and process differently
We might be interested in things others don’t understand, pay attention to things other people might not, or we might spend more time thinking about or doing things. We can also be extremely sensitive, which we often manage with repetitive behaviors.
Autistic people communicate and socialize differently
Our communication might be repetitive, or we might script out what we want to say; we might also communicate using non-verbal methods. The way we communicate with bodies and behavior can differ as well; we might not be able to make eye contact or control our body language and expressions.
We could use some help
Being autistic in a non-autistic world is exhausting; sometimes, even things that seem simple can take a lot of energy. Things might seem too hard for us, even everyday things like cooking, cleaning, or running errands; having people to help us do these things can help us process things and recover energy properly.