So, you’ve been given a diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). But what does that mean, and how might ASD affect you? This article has a lot of information, and there are also links for you to click on to learn more. I am autistic myself, and I have had an interesting life. My autism has not held me back in any way, especially once I learned more about it.
What is it?
ASD, or autism for short, is a neurological (to do with your brain) condition that is caused by genetic factors. You were born with autism, you didn’t ‘catch’ it from someone else, and it wasn’t caused by anything. Some people think it is caused by other things, like what a person’s mum did while they were pregnant, or things like vaccines, but this is not true.
Autism affects people in different ways, and all autistic people are very different. However, there are some common traits. Autism mainly affects these different areas:
- social interactions – how you behave in social situations with other people
- the ability to communicate your feelings and needs clearly, and understand information given to you
- how you process and react to sensory information such as taste, touch, smell, feeling and sound
- your ability to plan and carry out tasks, such as getting ready for school
There are a lot of ‘myths’ about people with autism – these are things that a lot of people think, but that aren’t true. Things like:
- autistic people don’t like people or want friends. That’s silly! We all want to fit in and make friends, fall in love and have relationships. These are things most human beings want.
- people with autism don’t have empathy. Empathy is when you understand the feelings of another person, like when a friend or relative is sad. This is simply not true. In fact, I would say we have far too much empathy. Sometimes feelings are overwhelming and we need time to think about them before we can respond.
- only boys can be autistic. This is definitely untrue! There are lots and lots of girls with autism. It can be a bit more difficult to diagnose girls as our autism can look a bit different than how it looks in boys. If you are a girl living in Bristol, there’s a new charity for autistic girls and women called Auti.Ms that you might want to check out
- autistic people can’t express feelings. Again, we definitely can, it just might take us a bit longer to work out what those feelings are.
There is no cure for autism but learning more about it and how it affects you will help you a lot.
What does it mean for you?
Here is a great video that shows how autism can affect young people:
We like this one, too:
Here’s a really cool lady called Agony Autie, talking about her autism and her son’s autism:
The main thing to remember is that autism is just a different way of being in the world. It can make you feel very different to other people, so if you have the opportunity to meet other autistic young people, it’s a good idea to do that. If you are in Bristol, here is a big list of groups and clubs to think about.
If you don’t want to meet new people, another great way to learn more about autism and see that there are lots of other people like you is to read blogs written by autistic people and also follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here is a list of some blogs and YouTube channels written by autistic people.
There are also a lot of cool famous people with autism:
- Guy Martin – mechanic, motorcycle racer and television presenter
- Clay Marzo – a professional surfer
- Lionel Messi – professional football player for Barcelona
- Greta Thunberg – teenage climate change activist
- Satoshi Tajiri – creator of Pokémon
- Chris Packham – wildlife expert and television presenter
- Talia Grant – actor on Hollyoaks
Want to learn more?
We have loads of articles about autism on this website. Here are a few:
- Why being nonverbal doesn’t mean being noncapable
- Recovering from meltdowns
- Shutdowns and why they happen
- Autism and gender identity
- Sensory overload: top tips to keep it at bay
- Anxiety, why it happens and how to cope
- Aids to make stimming fun and easy
- The joys of stimming
- Autism and peer support: a valuable tool
- Being autistic at university: what you need to know
The Girl With The Curly Hair Project runs courses and has some great books to help you understand autism.
The National Autistic Society website also has a lot of information about autism.