Learn more about autism.

Autism is a lifelong neurodevelopmental disability that affects the way people communicate and interact with the world. Characteristics generally appear in early childhood and will be present, in some form, for life.

Autistic people may have:

• challenges with communicating and interacting with others
• repetitive and different behaviours, moving their bodies in different ways
• strong interest in one topic or subject
• different reactions to what they see, hear, smell, touch or taste
• preferences for routines and dislike change.

Autistic people feel joy, sadness and the whole range of human emotion, just like we all do. Autistic people want to be happy, to participate in life and make connections with people.

At least 1 in 100 Australians are autistic, with many more likely to be undiagnosed. That means it’s very likely you will know an autistic person in your lifetime.

No one wants to feel judged and unwelcome in their own communities – but many autistic people and their families experience this every day.

If you understand autism and autistic people, you can make small changes to your behaviours

Even these small acts can make a huge positive impact on someone’s life and break down barriers that lead to poor mental health, less employment opportunities and social isolation.

Autism is a lifelong condition, and children do not grow out of autism. In recent years there has been an increase in adults being diagnosed as they learn more about autism. Often a parent will seek a diagnosis themselves after having a child diagnosed.

At the moment, yes, because there are more boys diagnosed with autism. The current estimated ratio of boys and men diagnosed with autism to girls and women is 3:1. But this ratio has changed over time as more girls and women are diagnosed with autism. Emerging research suggests that autistic women and girls may be underrepresented in diagnosis and prevalence information we have now.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental (meaning related to the brain) disability and doesn’t have any physical characteristics.

This can lead to others judging autistic individuals and their families, because they may not understand why an autistic individual is behaving differently. For example, parents of autistic children sometimes report that others think that their child is just naughty, and that they lack parenting skills.

Many autistic people will experience meltdowns. The public often finds it hard to tell autism meltdowns and temper tantrums apart, but they are different things.

A meltdown is ‘an intense response to overwhelming situations’. It happens when someone becomes completely overwhelmed by their current situation and temporarily loses behavioural control. This loss of control can be expressed verbally (e.g. shouting, screaming, crying), physically (e.g. kicking, lashing out, biting) or in both ways.

Additionally, autistic people are more likely to experience ‘autistic burnout’, where they become too overwhelmed to process their environment, and their body and brain need time to reset.

Yes. Autistic people have emotions, just like everyone else.

However autistic individuals may struggle regulating, expressing, and/or explaining their emotions. For example, they may be very sensitive to a random story on TV and start crying. Or, they may not show any emotions at a sad event such as a funeral. Autistic people are more likely to express emotions around others if they feel they are in a comfortable and safe environment. All autistic people express emotions and feelings differently.

If you think you, or someone you know (family member, friend, colleague) may be autistic, you can contact Amaze’s Autism Advisors for advice on the diagnosis process. Advice will change depending on the person’s age, gender and location. The Autism Advisors can also discuss how to talk about autism to people you know.

Make a pledge and share #ChangeYourReactions with your family, friends and colleagues. Start conversations on being inclusive. Learn by talking to autistic people – there are Facebook groups, there are Twitter hashtags #actuallyautistic….

Amaze delivers training and workshops across Victoria. Visit our website for more information on the training we provide.

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