This week is World Autism Acceptance Week and we wanted to re-share this honest piece from our Autism Coach and Music Therapist Cléa who has autism. Cléa shares 5 things she’s learnt about autism since her diagnosis.
Cléa was diagnosed as autistic in July 2020, aged 29.
Here are 5 things about autism that I have learnt on my journey.
- Autistic is not a bad word. Neither is disabled. Autism is a disability partly because of the way our brains work, but also because the world is not set up to accommodate autistic people. The majority of autistic adults prefer to be called autistic rather than person with autism. This is known as identity first rather than person first language. Autism is a neurotype, so it describes the way someone thinks in a particular way that is different from people with non autistic brains, and so it is impossible to separate autism from the person. However not everyone prefers identity first language, so it’s important to check in with each autistic person you meet to make sure.
- The autism spectrum is not a straight line. It is more like a circle or a grid. Imagine you have lots of pots of different colours of paint, and each different pot is a different aspect or trait of autism. There are many different ways to mix the colours together to make another colour, just as there are many different ways that a person can be autistic.
- Society generally sees autism in one of two ways. either a screaming white boy or a genius white man. This misses so many people who are autistic, which leads to late diagnosis for many people who miss out on years of support and opportunities to learn more about themselves.
- Autistic people are often described as being high or low functioning, but many of us feel that these labels are reductive and often damaging. Our functioning level can fluctuate depending on the day, the situation, the people we’re around, and how well we might feel otherwise. No two autistic people are the same, so it’s important to look at someone’s individual needs, strengths and feelings in order to best support them.
- Being autistic can be a very joyful experience when we are not made to feel ashamed or bad about our differences and difficulties. this isn’t the same as ignoring them, rather celebrating our strengths and supporting us to navigate in a neurotypical world so that we can reach our potential.
If you or someone you know is autistic and you would like to explore how music therapy may be of benefit, please do get in touch.