Autism Acceptance Month this April 2023 serves as a reminder of the transformative potential of embracing all those within the neurodivergent umbrella, and implementing inclusive practices in your organisation. At Included we want to go beyond stereotypes. Over the next few weeks we will be exploring autism by sharing original and curated content.
But first, what is autism? Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition that presents itself in highly diverse ways, affecting how individuals perceive, interact with, and communicate with the world around them. Autism is a non-visible and lifelong developmental disability. You can’t tell someone is autistic by the way they look, but you might be able to through their behaviours. Autism, and autistic people, are often misunderstood and may require support with things like communication, interaction with others, using imagination, being flexible and feeling overwhelmed by activity in the world around them.
It is important to note that the way that autism is represented, discussed, perceived and animated differs widely according to factors such as geography, nationality, and other cultural contexts. Even more importantly, there is no clear consensus amongst autistic people as to language forms which are preferable to them (including the words we’ve used in the previous paragraph: “condition” and “disability”). Part of this is in turn due to the huge variation of ways in which autism can present in people. Depending on our background and the form of autism in question, we may need to consider more medicalised language, particularly in severe cases where the condition requires careful accommodations and care. Others foreground a more person-centred form of language (autism as an example of neuro-divergence or neurological variance within and between people).
One of our first features will be on the power of language to dismantle prejudice against autistic people. Here is an extract:
“One way of talking about forms of autism that has gained popularity in recent years is describing it as a neurotype. The concept of neurotype has gained popularity in recent years, particularly in the fields of psychology and neuroscience. It has been adopted by some in the autism community as it refers to the individual differences in brain function and composition that affect behaviour and personality. Rather than describing a specific problem to be fixed, it suggests that people with different neurotypes will have different tendencies, strengths, and weaknesses that affect their processing and response to stimuli, emotions, and social interactions. The neurotype concept considers the diversity of the human brain and emphasises the need for personalised and tailored interventions that aim to optimize individual capacities while minimising limitations.”
If we are working with you this month, feel free to ask us directly about Autism Acceptance Month, and if you have a story to share please get in touch via email at [email protected]. By valuing and supporting autistic and other neurodivergent individuals, your organisation can better your people’s experiences at work and unlock the full potential of your workforce.