Today is World Autism Acceptance Day, a day celebrated by organisations across the world to bring awareness, acceptance, and education to Autism Spectrum Disorder.
Autism is a neuro-developmental disorder that is characterised by differences in communicating and interacting with others, as well as other day-to-day situations. Autistic people may experience difficulty in joining and making conversations and picking up and understanding body language and non-verbal cues. They may also experience sensory sensitivities making some noises, smells, tastes and textures intolerable. Loud noises may even be painful.
There are also many great qualities and strengths shown by those with autism; these include attention to detail, passionate interest in topics, logical skills and a good memory.
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a spectrum and people can fall differently on the spectrum. In fact, it is likely that no two people will present with the same combination of traits and experiences. It is estimated that around 1-2% of the population have autism spectrum disorder. It’s also well documented that autistic people have high rates of eating disorders, anxiety, depression and PTSD as well as other mental health conditions.
Despite common traits such as attention to detail, logic and focus, research suggests that less than half (41%) of autistic university students complete their Bachelor’s degree, and while research into grad school and beyond is lacking, it is likely lower than this. This indicates a need for more understanding about autism spectrum disorder and better support and accommodations for autistic students to allow them the same opportunities as their allistic peers.