Updated : August 1, 2022 6 mins read
Updated : August 1, 2022 6 mins read
It’s important to remember…
The information that we put together in these pages are for informational purposes and should never be used as medical advice or instead of advice given to you from a health professional.
If you have any concerns about your mental health then you should always speak to a mental health professional or your GP.
We do our very best to put together information that gives you a good understanding of mental health issues and what can help but it is not intended as medical advice and we do not take responsibility that it is accurate or up to date at the time of reading.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability, this means it affects how your brain works. Autism is not an illness, it is a condition that people are born with and have throughout their life.
Autism affects how people communicate, understand and interact with the world around them. There are around 700,000 adults and young people with autism in the UK. In Scotland around 1 in every 100 people has autism.
Some people think that autism is a mental health condition, it’s not. Although it is common for people with autism to experience mental health issues, it is not a mental health condition. You can’t develop autism or cure it and it is not something that you grow out of.
Living with autism may mean that your brain works differently to others, but this isn’t a bad thing, people with autism see things differently to people without autism (i.e. neurodiverse vs neurotypical). It is thought that some of the world’s greatest scientists were likely to be autistic, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin among them. We can’t know for sure that they had autism, because as a word it didn’t exist but it’s very likely they were on the spectrum. More recently actors such as Sir Anthony Hopkins and Daryl Hannah have spoken out about being on the autistic spectrum. As you can see, the world would be a very different place without people with autism!
Diversity is all about variety. If you think about your friends – none of them are exactly the same, they are diverse and different in their own way. Our brains aren’t any different. Neurodiverse refers to the different ways that the brain learns and processes information.
The autistic community started using the phrase to move away from the thinking that having autism is something that needs to be cured. Instead neurodiversity should be celebrated and seen as a positive.
It is thought that around 1 in 7 people have neurodevelopmental differences which include a range of learning disabilities and difficulties including ADHD, dyslexia, dyspraxia, epilepsy and of course autism.
Autism is a spectrum condition, this means that the impact that autism has on your life is different for everyone on the spectrum.
Regardless of where you are on the autism spectrum, there are common characteristics that all people with autism experience:
Difficulties in communication, social interaction, inflexible thinking or imagination and restricted or repetitive patterns of behaviour.
Over the years, there have been lots of misinformation and misunderstandings about the causes of autism. Two of the biggest false causes of autism are bad parenting styles and having a vaccine as a child.
Research has proven what doesn’t cause autism but we’re still learning what does cause it.
What we do know that:
Having autism is different for everyone who is on the spectrum. Although there are common difficulties that everyone with autism has, how much that affects you and how you manage them can be very different.
The simple answer is YES!
People who are on the autism spectrum have many strengths and abilities. Here are just a few:
These are just a few examples of the positives of autism. As you can see there are many ways that living autism can make you a great student, employee and friend.
If you think you might be on the autism spectrum, you will need to get a diagnosis from someone who knows a lot about autism. This might be a doctor or a trained autism practitioner.
If you feel that you can get the right support by learning more about autism and how to overcome difficulties then you may decide you don’t need to have a formal diagnosis. However, if you are hoping to get access to support or services then you might need a formal diagnosis.
You can ask about autism testing by:
Before seeing someone about autism, you may have to wait some time. It can be helpful to find out as much as you can about autism and what support you can put in place now to help ease any difficulties you’re having.
It is important to remember that being diagnosed with autism isn’t a bad thing. You are not ill or need curing of something.
Simply, your brain is wired in a unique way.
Getting support isn’t about reducing or stopping your autism. It’s about making changes that support your autism and help you to cope with situations that you find difficult so you can live your life the way you want to.
You might hear the phrase reasonable adjustment when you have autism. Reasonable adjustments are changes that help you to study, work or get about your day.
Examples of reasonable adjustments:
Get Help now
If you are concerned about your mental health, or if you have found yourself feeling concerned about someone else, you can:
Call 111 – NHS 24
Call 116 123 – The Samaritans
Call 0800 83 85 87 – Breathing Space
Text: ‘YM’ to 85258 – Young Minds crisis chat
If you think you are in danger of hurting yourself or other people, you should call 999 or present to your local A&E department.