March 27th to April 2nd marks World Autism Acceptance week. This year’s theme, colour, highlights and celebrates the diversity of the Spectrum.
Autism is more common in males than female. Research has found Autism is approximately 4.2 times more prevalent in males. Additionally, signs of autism are different between sexes.
Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.It’s something you’re born with. Signs of autism might be noticed when you’re very young, or not until you’re older. Autism is a spectrum. This means individuals with autism will need varying levels of support.
In order to understand more about Autism and increase awareness, members of the community have shared their views on living with Autism. We would like to take this opportunity to thank Karla and Tamara for sharing their views and contributing to spreading awareness this Autism Acceptance week!
What do you wish everybody knew about Autism?
“I wish people knew that being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It just means your brain is wired differently hence the reason it works in a different way. It is also not the end of the world. Although it might have been when they first diagnosed my son (reason being I knew nothing about it), I quickly came to understand that he was perfectly healthy and that he was still the same little boy. That just because he’s autistic, does not categorise him into a different human being. There’s a saying that says ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. Not everyone with autism is the same, just like not everyone on earth is the same. EVERYONE on earth is different, despite their abilities or disabilities. I also wish people knew that you can’t see autism. It’s very heartbreaking to hear comments like ‘but he looks perfectly fine’. The fact is, he is perfectly fine. There is nothing wrong with him. People with autism THINK differently to us, and have been put in a world where it makes no sense to them. How is that visible? They have differences that we call ‘challenges’ because WE don’t understand how to handle them. But with the correct tools in place, we can learn to understand them better, and they can learn to live in a world that is not catered for them. It’s a disability that no one can see, and it’s hard for us as parents and for them as individuals. The perfect world would be one where everyone would accept anyone the way they are. Everyone is unique in their own way, and autism doesn’t make it any different. Why should I teach my child to act like a ‘normal human being’? What is a ‘normal’ human being anyway? My biggest wish would be for people to be aware of the differences in autistic people and understand that they are just different, just like you and me, and everyone else, but not less!” – Karla Imossi
“That Autism does not have a cure, it’s a lifelong disability. It does not come with a handbook or instructions. Reading about Autism does not make you an expert and all children/adults are different, and what applies to one does not necessarily work for another.” – Tamara Colton
What are the biggest challenges to those living with Autism/their carers, in Gibraltar?
“Access to respite, proper medical and mental management, little resources to maintain a steady and constant care. Everything that needs to done or achieved for our children/adults is a struggle, nothing is explained when a diagnosis is given and the issues are growing every day. It’s a growing problem as the numbers increase and no proper things are in place”. – Tamara Colton
If you think you, your child or someone you love could be Autistic there are various people you could speak to. Receiving a diagnosis is important as it will help put appropriate support systems in place.
People who may be able to advise
• A GP
• A health visitor (for children under 5)
• Any other health professional
• Special educational needs (SENCO) staff at your child’s school
What is Autism?
Autistic people may:
• find it hard to communicate and interact with other people
• find it hard to understand how other people think or feel
• find things like bright lights or loud noises overwhelming, stressful or uncomfortable
• get anxious or upset about unfamiliar situations and social events
• take longer to understand information
• do or think the same things over and over
More information and support can be found at https://www.autism.org.uk
Special Needs Action Group