Hudson Sandler looks at World Autism Awareness Week 2017 and how we learned more about the condition and the people that work with it every day.
Did you know that four times as many males as females are likely to be autistic and, with improved diagnoses and better recognition, some believe the ratio may even be 2:1? Did you know that around a third of people with a learning disability may be autistic? Did you know that Dustin Hoffman may not have been quite as successful at portraying a typical person on the spectrum as Hollywood would have you believe? At Hudson Sandler we thought these were things we should know, so we decided to lend our support to the World Autism Awareness Week 2017.
1 in 100 of all people in the UK have received a diagnosis of autism. That accounts for 700,000 people. If we include their families, the number shoots up drastically to around 2.8 million people who are living with autism on a daily basis. But these figures may not be completely accurate. The last prevalence survey of autism was published in 2012—that’s five years ago. The last few years have seen a noticeable increase in diagnoses, meaning that the true numbers could be much, much higher.
To find out more about autism, we invited Claire Droney of The Bridge School’s Outreach Service (Outreach) to come and talk to us about Outreach’s work with autistic children and teaching staff around Islington. Islington is one of the most inclusive boroughs in the UK and Outreach play an important role in this.
Claire and her colleagues are on the road almost every day, working with the teaching staff at schools and helping them create timetables, lesson plans and developing techniques to make sure that children with autism in mainstream schools are able to play a full part in their school’s life and culture. But that’s only part of their role. Importantly, they also work with typically-developing children to make them more aware of autism. This changes perception and provides an environment where both groups—those with autism and those without—can interact with a greater level of understanding of each other.
Malmaison, which has recently announced that its Liverpool Hotel is Autism Friendly. There are also companies such as Tesco and Virgin Atlantic who are catering to people with autism and making sure they are included in everything the companies do. The National Autistic Society is also working with employers to help find paid work for autistic people. (Just 16% of autistic adults are in full-time paid work).
For our part, we raised money for the National Autistic Society by running a self-defence workshop immediately after the talk. This was a fun way to work together and learn something useful, while also raising some money for a good cause. Based on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, we learned some techniques to protect ourselves and some of the concepts of self-defence such as conflict resolution and avoidance. So far, we have raised £500 from this and other activities.
We also worked with Outreach to write and promote an article about the great work being done in Islington schools to include children with autism. We were very pleased that, following this, we gained placements in key Special Needs and local Islington publications.
We were proud to do our part to raise awareness of this condition, and even more proud to be able to help recognise the people working every day with children with autism. World Autism Awareness Week was a great chance for us to think about autism but for many it’s not one week, it’s 52. The more we understand this condition, the more we can include people with the diagnosis in our everyday lives.