What is Autism?
Autism is complex, and exists on a spectrum. It is lifelong, and someone is diagnosed usually in their childhood, but sometimes people can be diagnosed later in life.
Autism affects everyone differently, and varies greatly from person to person. It does not know gender, race, or class. There is no known single cause, and early diagnosis is vital as it means a person can get the help, and support they need to ensure they can have a happy, and positive life.
People who are on the Autism spectrum are at a higher risk of experiencing poor mental health, as they are vulnerable to bullying, and social isolation, anxiety, stress, and may often feel unheard. This can evoke feels of frustration, as well as impacting on their sense of self-worth, and emotional wellbeing.
Nearly 70% of children who are diagnosed and on the Autism spectrum experience at-least one mental health condition.
How can we help lower that number?
If you are a friend or family member of someone on the Autism spectrum, give them lots of support, and let them know that you love and care for them. Help them build a positive support network including good friends and family, as well as using positive reinforcement, and being understanding of what they may be experiencing – even if there are troubles communicating it.
If you are concerned for your friend or family member, try:
- Letting them know that help is always available and that there are many resources they can use (such as eheadspace), and help them find a service that will benefit them
- Be honest and direct with them about your worries
- Reassure them that you are there for them when they need you
What signs should I look out for if they are facing mental ill health?
- Appetite changes and weight fluctuations
- Increased agitation and changes in mood
- Partaking in risky behaviours
- Losing interest in things they used to love and enjoy doing
- Changes in sleeping patterns
If you want more information on the Autism spectrum, you can visit autismspectrum.org.au or autismawareness.com.au to locate fact sheets, resources, and all kinds of support. You can also speak to your general practitioner, and they can refer you to the correct specialist for you.
#CelebrateDifferences #AutismAwareness #AutismSpectrum
This fact sheet was prepared by Clare, Youth Advocate