Wednesday, 6 July 2022
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Wednesday, 6 July 2022

Dorset charity launches online campaign to banish autism ‘myths’

Autism Unlimited is running an eye-opening online campaign – Autism: it’s more than you think – to dispel some of the myths surrounding the condition and shine a light on the unique and special characteristics of neurodiverse people.

Autism Unlimited, based in Christchurch, provides support to autistic people through education, residential and supported independent living.

The charity also owns and operates Portfield School in Parley, which provides specialist teaching and cares for students aged 4 to 19, who hold an autism spectrum disorder diagnosis (ASD).

Tyler is one of the people featured in the Autism: it’s more than you think campaign.

A student at Autism Unlimited’s Sixth Form, he explains that his autism diagnosis was accompanied by a list of things he would probably not be able to do. But in fact, became the starting point to him finding his identity and true potential.

Dorset charity launches online campaign to banish autism ‘myths’
Tyler

He said:

“I didn’t really know what autism was until someone told my Mum that was what I have. And if that’s what makes me, me – then I’m fine with that.

“I sometimes struggle with things like maths and negative changes and my hands always need to be fiddling with something. But I have a great deal of knowledge.

“When I was diagnosed, two things I can remember being told were that I wouldn’t be able to make long-lasting friendships and I wouldn’t be able to ride a bike.

“Guess two things that I can do! Autism shouldn’t be considered a disability.

“I love steam engines and for the longest time, my dream was to get a job in that field. But I’ve realised now that after I’m done with education, I want to be a teaching assistant at Portfield School and help other people with autism.

“Autistic people have a lot of imagination. We don’t just wave our hands around and stare at things. We’re a lot more than you think.”

Portfield School student Archie was diagnosed with autism in 2018 at the age of 13, after years spent struggling in mainstream school.

He said:

“People find out I’m autistic and they’ll say: ‘Oh you don’t look autistic.’ But I don’t understand that, because no one really looks autistic.

“A lot of people assume that autism is just one thing and that everyone’s the same, but it’s not at all.

“When it comes to working, some people think that people with autism can’t have a career and they can’t make anything out of their lives, but it’s not true in the slightest. I had a paper round from the age of like 12 till I was 15, and then I did some restaurant work and now I’ve worked at McDonald’s for two months and I’m loving it there and all the opportunities are amazing.

“I’d like to join the Royal Logistics Corps as a driver when I leave school because I’m an Army cadet and I’ve always been interested in the military and cars.

“I think a lot of people assume that autistic people can’t make anything out of their lives. But it’s the opposite really.”

In Autism Acceptance Month (April) and beyond, Autism Unlimited is looking to publish more autistic people’s stories, to help it demonstrate the tenacity, strengths and skills of the autistic community.

Siún Cranny, CEO of Autism Unlimited said:

“As one of the country’s autism charities, we know only too well of the incredible potential autistic people possess. And we work tirelessly to support people to reach that potential by enabling them to access excellent education and by supporting them in realising their dreams, ambitions and career aspirations.

“Autism affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. But quite often, all that is needed to make a situation better or easier for an autistic person are some simple adaptations or changes.

“Many people still do not know this. Or feel awkward or nervous that they will offend or further isolate an autistic person through their lack of knowledge.

“Through our new campaign, we want to banish some of the myths about autism, answer people’s questions and showcase what autistic people are really capable of. We also want to show how we at Autism Unlimited already help people achieve and will help people achieve in the future if they are given the consideration, resources and often simple adaptations they need.”

Read the stories for yourself and find out how to join the campaign at: https://www.autism-unlimited.org/autism-its-more-than-you-think/.

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