In this post, we answer the question, ‘when is autism acceptance week?‘ and share the messages that key groups such as the National Autistic Society would like everyone to hear. Following this, we look at some key strategies for support workers who support young people with autism.
Support workers are responsible for ensuring that the people they support are able to lead more fulfilling lives. However, the barriers standing between them and achieving this are often complex and multifaceted. Autism can make it particularly challenging for a person to feel in control of their lives.
Support workers should provide ‘just enough’ support for individuals to reach their goals, empowering them to make their own positive life choices.
Autism Awareness Day
There are seven health-focused days set up by the United Nations. World Autism day is one of them. The aim of the day is to bring together the growing number of autism organisations across the world. Increasing collaboration in research, treatment, diagnoses and raising awareness are the core objectives.
At Prospero Health & Social Care, many of our support workers and mentors support young people who have a form of autism each and every day. Consequently, we are passionate about the fantastic work that they do, and we’re keen to celebrate this day by raising awareness and sharing positive ideas.
When is Autism Awareness Day?
This year, Autism Awareness Day is taking place on Saturday the 2nd of April.
Controversy Around the Phrasing ‘Autism Awareness’
In recent years, the phrase ‘Autism Awareness’ has raised controversy among autism rights supporters. They argue that this terminology adds to the ableism around autistic people.
‘Ableism’ – defined as social prejudice or discrimination against people who are disabled. Ableism defines people by their disabilities and percieves them as inferior to ‘non-disabled’ people.
Autism Acceptance Week
Alternatively, advocates for autism rights suggest the term ‘Autism Acceptance’. In light of this, we are also celebrating ‘Autism Acceptance Week‘ which takes place between March 28th and April 3rd.
The World Autistic Society is encouraging people to sign up and fundraise for the cause. Christine McGuinness is hosting a virtual ‘Super 60 Challenge’ fundraiser, and the week culminates in their Spectrum Night Walk from London to Manchester.
We need to work together consciously to overcome any prejudices towards autism, alongside raising awareness.
Also, check out our free course, ‘An Introduction to ASD.‘
Our Free Online Course ‘An Introduction to ASD’
Notably, this course is a brilliant resource for support workers who may be working with a student with Autism for the first time.
Within, you will learn about the early indicators of autism and how diagnoses are made. Following this, the course explores why people with autism can be misunderstood in public, as well as how social communication can be challenging. A number of strategies for supporting young people with ASD are presented.
5 Strategies To Supporting Young People with Autism
Young people in need of a support worker are likely to have had a very difficult time. It may be that their placement has collapsed and that they are being supported by a crisis team.
The challenge of having to adapt to unfamiliar environments is felt all the more keenly in young people with autism. Unfortunately, these difficulties can lead to increased anxiety making it harder for students to overcome their challenges to adapt. Because of this, support workers play a crucial role.
For student support workers, there are a number of ways that you can have a positive impact on guiding students to reach their potential. See below for our top five:
1. Begin By Highlighting Strengths
Upon meeting a young person with autism, start by finding and celebrating their strengths. Talk about ways that these can support their daily lives.
This is much more positive than opening with questions like, ‘what do you find most difficult?’ or ‘what prevents you from succeeding with your goals?’ This way, we set the tone for empowering and guiding our clients towards a happier more fulfilled life.
2. Share and Maintain a Schedule
The busy rush of a university campus and library can be incredibly distracting for students with autism. It would be useful to discuss with your student their preferences before you choose a space to meet and study. Find out how they manage sensory stimuli such as auditory or visual.
Students may find it comforting to have a schedule set up as they become more familiar with the various settings. If changes occur, make sure that advance notice is given to the student to avoid unnecessary anxiety.
3. Be Clear & Concise
Be aware that ambiguous wording and phrases can have multiple meanings can cause confusion for students with autism. Make sure that you think about the clearest and most concise way that you can deliver a message to your student.
If you are planning on working on a particular resource or text in a session, give your student the option to receive this before the session. This will reduce anxiety as it enables individuals to prepare for what’s coming up.
4. Be Positive & Accepting
There are likely to be a few bumps along the way, and managing anxiety is likely to feature in your sessions.
It’s vital that you demonstrate a positive attitude towards the methods your student employs to manage their stress levels. They may carry a stress toy, or prefer to sit in the same seat.
Be clear that your student can leave a tutoring session or take some time out if they start to feel overwhelmed. Reiterate that they will not be in trouble for this, and show that you are there to offer positive support.
5. Continue to Learn and Share Knowledge
When supporting students with a range of individual needs, there is always more to learn and discover. We’d advise you to regularly read around the latest guidance on supporting students on the autistic spectrum. You could even request training from the National Autistic Society.
Ambitious About Autism’s Toolkit is an invaluable resource if you’d like further information.
Thank you for reading our post on Autism Awareness Day and World Autism Acceptance Week, we hope you found it informative. If you’d like to get involved in the discussion, we’d love you to share your ideas and thoughts on our social media feeds. If you’re currently looking for work, browse our latest vacancies or register your interest here.