Autism is a pervasive neurodevelopmental condition, this means that it impacts on all parts of a persons life. Autistic people are wired differently to non autistic people, not wired wrongly, wired differently. Some autistic people have a learning disability the same as some non autistic people do. Some autistic people can communicate verbally some cant. Being able to speak does not mean a person is less autistic than someone who cant speak and vice versa.
The mainstream world is a very difficult place for autistic people and trying to navigate day to day challenges that non autistic people find easy can be really stressful.
Some days being autistic feels like everything is coming at you at 300 miles per hour and you don’t have time to think or even breathe sometimes. If autistic people feel like this for too long and cant tell anyone or get the right help we can meltdown or shutdown. This is not the same as having a tantrum or a strop, this feeling is completely overwhelming and we need space and time and the right kind of help to get through these times.
Autistic people process everything in the world differently to non autistic people, we may need more time, less stimulus/protection from our surroundings maybe in the form of ear defenders/headphones, sun glasses [even indoors] a hood up. Sometimes we need to be left alone to use our own calming strategies, so long as we are safe that is ok.
It is really important for autistic people to be supported by people who genuinely understand us and can read our emotions so that when we cant find the right words to explain how we are feeling or what is stressing us we can still access support, just because we are quite and compliant we may not be ok and its important that people learn how to tell when we need help. Autism is part of who we are, it cant be turned on and off and we don’t choose when to become overwhelmed and when not to.
Autistic people can live happy lives and achieve so much when our environment is right for us. Every single autistic person is an individual so people around us who are supporting us need to understand the particular things that stress us or help us.
Never make an assumption about an autistic person, talk to them and their carers and hear their voices no matter how they communicate. You have met one autistic person = You have met one autistic person.
The Autism Education Trust (AET) helps children and young people with autism to receive an education, enabling them to reach their potential.
The Education Rights Service provides impartial and confidential information and support to families on school education rights and entitlements.
This guide is for young people, who are of secondary school age, and their families or adults with parental responsibility.