April is Autism Awareness Month! At Lawson Clinical Psychology we are keen to build both awareness and more importantly, acceptance of Autism, and neurodivergence within our community.
Autism is a neurological condition characterised by differences in the way the brain and body processes information which then influences how a person communicates and interacts with people and the world around them. Like everyone, Autistic people have individual strengths and challenges and every Autistic person presents with, and is affected by, their Autism in various different ways.
For a formal diagnosis of Autism, challenges within in two main areas are required:
- Difficulties in social communication and interactions
- Restricted and repetitive behaviours, and sensory regulation issues
These challenges are present from early childhood, and may negatively impact on a person’s life in areas such as, their relationships with others, school, employment, or their capacity to consistently engage in daily activities. In addition to these challenges, neurological differences associated with Autism can also incorporate areas of strength, such as a high level of specialised knowledge, enhanced creativity and problem solving, and visual spatial processing skills.
We use the term ‘autism’ to refer to the clinical diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). For some members of the autism community the label ‘disorder’ produces stigma and emphasises the difficulties associated with autism rather than identifying a person’s strengths. Likewise, we use identity-first language such as ‘autistic person’ throughout to respect the preferences of the majority of autistic people (Kenny et al. 2016). However, the best way to find out how an Autistic person likes to refer to their Autism is to ask them, as it varies for each individual.