Speech on Autism Awareness – by Edward Parker, KS4 Student

Hello, today I’ll be speaking about a topic that is extremely close to my heart, that being Autism Awareness. Now, to ask you all a question, one that will impact whether or not this speech means much to you, have you ever come across an autistic person before, disregarding me, of course? Or even better yet, do any of you know what it means to be autistic, or what the term ‘autism’ means? Well, to explain, autism is a life-long, developmental disorder that is characterised by two factors. A) Difficulty with social interaction, and B) restrictive or repetitive thought or behavioural patterns. Some examples of autism are Kanner’s syndrome, also known as childhood or early infantile autism, which is defined by abnormal development that occurs within the first three years of one’s life and irregular functioning in situations of social interaction and communication. As well as Asperger’s syndrome, also known as Asperger’s disorder or simply Asperger’s, which is defined by intellectual or artistic interest, speech problems, delayed motor development, and the creation of a psychologically harmful mindscape.

Despite how distant or different this way of life may be to your own, it is still incredibly important, as well as helpful, to understand the relevance of this topic, so that you can know how it is for people like me and how you can help the lot of us – and I don’t lie when I say there are a lot of us. In 2018, The CDC, Centres for Disease Control and Protection, state that there is at least 1 person in a case of 59 people that has an autism spectrum disorder. This is troublesome as, when compared to the rest of the global population, there is a significantly grand number of diagnosed children in the world with autism, further implying its relevance, as there are many people across the globe that require your understanding and acceptance. Additionally, many autistic people can experience social isolation, due to the fact that they may find that non-autistic or neurotypical people seem unwelcoming, or they may just like their own company, which can further affect their social integrity, and lead to a thorough distrust or unrelatability between them and the outer world. As bad as this all may seem, what really hits me the most, which truly feels like a brick straight into my skull, is that the autistic face the threat of bullying more than any other type of person; this, to me, is a disgrace, an unforgivable deed, and which I can’t stand, as there are those in the world who can’t understand us, won’t accept us, and depict us as one big joke.

What can be done to help those on the autism spectrum, or even their families, is to take part in effective treatments, created by mental health professionals. A few types of treatment include behaviour and communication therapies, where many programmes address the range of social, language and behavioural difficulties associated with autism spectrum disorders, and focus on reducing behavioural problems by teaching new social skills that will encourage independence. Also, there are educational therapies, where the autistic often respond well to highly structured educational programmes, and typically include a team of specialists and a variety of activities to improve social interaction skills, communication and behaviour. Even medications can help by, perhaps not improving the core signs of autism spectrum disorder but controlling its symptoms.

Overall, in a few simple words, autism is not a processing disorder, it is a different operating system. Thank You.