World Autism Awareness Week – 30 March to 5 April

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By Charles Fraser, Senior Solicitor and Head of the Older and Vulnerable client team

This week is World Autism Awareness Week with lots of organisations worldwide spreading awareness and trying to increase acceptance for autistic people and their families. In the UK it is estimated that there are over 700,000 adults and children with autism.

Autism is defined by the National Autistic Society (NAS) as “a lifelong, developmental disability that affects how a person communicates and relates to other people, and how they experience the world around them”.

Last year the NAS carried out a survey of the top 5 key facts that autistic people would like the public to know. Autistic people may:

  1. Feel anxiety about changes or unexpected events.
  2. Be under or over sensitive to sound, smells, light, taste and touch. This is called sensory sensitivity.
  3. Need time to process information, like questions or instructions.
  4. Face high levels of anxiety in social situations.
  5. Have difficulties communicating and interacting with others.

Any of these or combination of these could lead to meltdown or shutdown.

In order to help anyone who is autistic, the NAS has suggested the following tips below:

  • Give people as much notice as possible about changes to plans or unexpected events.
  • Provide a quiet space to retreat to when needed.
  • Take the time to explain things clearly and give people time to process and respond.
  • When arranging social events give plenty of notice and as much information of what to expect as possible.
  • Do not rely on body language or facial expressions as some autistic people can struggle with this.

In the current climate of social distancing and having to “stay at home” any ordinary day to day routines will have had to change as a necessity. Whilst new routines may be established, any small change may prove difficult.

The threat of catching and suffering from COVID19 may increase everyone’s general levels of anxiety however for anyone on the autistic spectrum the anxiety may will be heightened.

The coronavirus crisis is a challenging time for everybody and it has probably forced you to think about our personal affairs. If you are the parent of a child who is autistic, we can help you update your Wills and Powers of Attorney taking into account your children’s needs.

If you would like further advice please contact Charles Fraser.

Please note the contents of this blog are given for information only and must not be relied upon. Legal advice should always be sought in relation to specific circumstances.