World Autism Awareness Week takes place from 29 March to 4 April and raising awareness is more important than ever. The pandemic has been particularly tough for many autistic people and their families. The ever-changing guidelines and restrictions can be confusing to understand and difficult to implement for autistic people with high support needs.
What is Autism?
Autism is a life-long difference which affects at least 1% of the entire population, including our workforce. As one of the only conditions that is recognised and named under the Equality Act, autism occurs across all ages, genders and groups of society, including those who might also have a learning disability or other forms of learning difficulty.
Autistic people experience the world in a different way and have differences in relation to social understanding, social communication, flexibility and sensory differences. This means that autistic people have differences in terms of the way that they understand the social rules of the world, for example, not always understanding jokes or sarcasm.
Autistic people can experience sensory differences and often report things like feeling stressed when someone touches them or when the hear the sound of people eating. Some autistic people also describe some sensory issues as painful, such as being exposed to sunlight or having to look someone in the eye.
Given the stress that these differences can create, for many autistic people the rates of secondary mental health differences can be as high as 80%, compared to the rest of the population (often referred to as neurotypical) which is around 20%. Although this doesn’t apply to everyone, we also know that autistic people often have less opportunities or less success in relation to education, housing and employment.
Autism and CNTW. Did you know…?
- CNTW has been leading a piece of work identifying good standards of practice for autistic people
- CNTW provides an adult autism diagnosis service which works across the region and is based in Newcastle and Carlisle
- CNTW supports people who have a learning disability and autism through the learning disability services
- We provide specialist inpatient services through Mitford at Northgate Hospital in Morpeth and we are working on what a good inpatient pathway looks like for autistic people
- CNTW provides a Complex Neurodevelopmental Disorders Service (CNDS) providing specialist second opinion Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Service for children and young people
- We are also undertaking a piece of work looking at the health inequalities experienced by people with learning disabilities and autism
- CNTW is in the process of rolling out the Oliver McGowan Autism Awareness Training across the Trust
- We are leading on virtual research looking at annual health checks for autistic people and leading on whether virtual reality therapy has lasting effect in treatment for autism phobias
- CNTW is engaged in a piece of work looking at how “autism friendly” we are as an organisation. This work will form part of the Trust-wide review of its autism strategy, focusing on service users, carers and staff, who themselves are autistic
- CNTW has secured funding to support autism training from Autism in Mind and are hoping to build and expand on this as part of the mandatory training that we are developing
Watch The National Autistic Society’s video on ‘What is Autism?’
You can find out more about autism at National Autistic Society.
To show your support for Autism Awareness Week, we ask you to give up 5 minutes of your time to watch these videos:
- Describing Autism – Amazing Things Happen
- Sensory Overload, A Child’s View – Can you make it to the end?
- An Adult’s View – Make it Stop