Welcome to YouthHub, where you can find out more about living with Autism, hear the stories of others, share your own and have your questions answered
Watch: Laragh & Joanne share their stories at National Autism Conference!
AsIAm recently held its first National Autism Conference, exploring the theme of "Empowering Potential". We were delighted... Read More
Step into the shoes of someone with Autism: Autism Experience Exhibition to visit Tallaght Stadium
AsIAm will be bringing our “Autism Experience” Exhibition to Tallaght Stadium on Thursday 19th January (1:00pm -... Read More
Get down the Autism Experience Exhibition in Portlaoise
AsIAm will be bringing our “Autism Experience” Exhibition to the Portlaoise Heritage Hotel on Saturday 26th... Read More
Get down to the Autism Experience Exhibition in Ennis!
AsIAm will be bringing our "Autism Experience" Exhibition to the Temple Gate Hotel, Ennis on Thursday 20th (between 10am and... Read More
Tools and ideas to make your community more Autism-friendly
You will find the words "Autism-friendly" a lot throughout the website - but how can you put it into action? Everyone can... Read More
Kevin McLoughlin on Life with Autism, Peers and the Need to Push Yourself
As part of our Youth Awareness Campaign (supported by the Department of Justice & Equality) we held public meetings... Read More
All young people get involved in sports or extra-curricular clubs at some point, it is part of life, a right of passage… however, sometimes it is harder for people with autism to be included in activities in the community.
Many people with autism struggle with coordination skills, making sports difficult. Because of this and the social difficulties that people may face, joining in with sports seem like a daunting task rather than an enjoyable activity.
If there is someone with autism in your club think how you can include everyone. Be aware of language that is used in sports. It could be tempting to shout unkind words, but many people with autism could be put off joining in.
Be aware that there may be aspects of the sport that will take the person with autism a bit longer to get used to. It may they need more time to get used to wearing a helmet in GAA, or a bit more time to get used to playing certain positions in a football team.
Using public transport can be something that everybody finds a little stressful from time to time. You have to stick to a timetable, wait in a busy location, and then find a seat or stand on a crowded service. So, using public transport can present a wide array of challenges.
People with autism struggle with sensory processing and sensory integration, this means that their 5 senses may be over-stimulated or under-stimulated at any given time. This makes a number of aspects of using public transport quite difficult.
Sight – Bright lights and colours can be difficult for a person with autism.
Smell – A person with autism can also feel very uncomfortable if there is a smell they do not like. Think how often sometime gets on a bus eating their fast food dinner.
Hearing – Many people with autism find large crowds difficult. Think of the different noises on public transport. There are beeping doors, tannoy system or the sound of a horn. In a taxi there can be a loud radio or a very chatty taxi man!
Touch – It is quite common for some people with autism to need a certain amount of personal space, it can very stressful and uncomfortable if there are people bumping into them. It is for this reason busy transport services can be very difficult.
Additionally, some people may find a particular texture either very unpleasant or very pleasant and this may impact how well they are able to sit down.
Challenges with communication, Organisational skills, and anxiety can all play a part in making public transport very daunting for someone with autism.
Visiting a supermarket, shop or shopping centre is not easy for people who are on the Autism Spectrum – often shops, by their very nature, can be noisy, unpredictable, and busy and also involve a lot of communication. This can make it very difficult for customers with autism and their families to face going into a shop at all.
If you are arranging to go to your local cinema or shopping centre as a group, maybe try and arrange a time that you know will less busy and make it easier for someone with autism to go with you. When you are planning your trip, rather than hyping it up, try playing it down a little, making it easier for them to prepare to go.
There is a need for a whole- community approach when it comes to autism. A lot of young people will say that their community do not understand them. While people with autism struggle with social skills and anxiety, the general community needs to understand how autism affects people differently and about the wider autistic spectrum.
People with autism can often feel dis-empowered to speak about their autism and their experience of it. You can help YOUR community to have a working knowledge of autism so that people ay stop and think before they judge.
You might think that you are just one person, and how can you make your community become more aware. There is plenty that you can do. Take a look at a few of these ides:
When you go to join clubs and societies, ensure that there is an inclusive culture. You could direct the leaders to the AsIAm website on how to create the inclusive culture for all people, and all abilities to join in the activity.
You could also talk to your local business. Are they inclusive to people with autism and their families. You could direct them to website to help them with small adjustments they could make that will make the whole community inclusive of all people.
You can also spread the words. Spread the message through conversations, social media and pass on your knowledge to at least one person!
As Henry ford said “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
When talking about Autism you may hear people using different phrases to refer to those with the condition.
Aspergers Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Classical Autism, High-Functioning Autism or Atypical Autism are just some examples of this.
These are words which try to explain the experience of a certain cohort of those with the condition e.g people with Aspergers Syndrome would traditionally be those who did not experience speech delay and have average or above average intelligence.
In recent years however it has been recognised that no matter how many words you have, every person with Autism experiences the condition in a different way. While a person may be referred to as “high-functioning” they too may face areas where they find it very hard to manage. Equally, a person with “Classical Autism” may find some things very difficult to manage but this does not mean they can not cope well or be very talented in other areas.
For that reason, many people simply use the word “Autism” as everyone with the condition belongs to the one spectrum of experience and experiences similar challenges in different ways to varying degrees.
So instead of getting too caught up in the language, when you are meeting a person with Autism remember you are meeting an individual!
It means that you think differently and your brain has developed a little differently to other people.
Having Autism is only one part of who a person is – the way you think cuts into everything you do but you still have a personality, abilities and strengths beyond your condition.
Autism can present challenges in day to day life in a whole range of areas from social communication to interacting with others or dealing with the sensory environment. It can also bring strengths such as abilities in areas that you are interested in, an ability to see things differently to other people and a sense of honesty and loyalty.
Life with Autism may mean that you need support in some areas or need to do things a little differently to others, however it does not mean that you can’t reach your own personal potential, make a contribution to society and live a happy life!
Yes! When society doesn’t fully understand something, often myths and mistruths fill the void.
Some of the myths about Autism come from out-dates or disproved science, other from common misconceptions and others from popular culture. Of course, some myths also come from those who try to make money by making up “therapies”, “supports” or “causes” for Autism without the appropriate qualifications or any basis in science.
It is as important to understand what isn’t true about Autism as what is true – check out our YLT Video on Mythbusters to see what we mean!
People with Autism, when given the right support, can achieve great success. Success looks different for everyone but ultimately it is about reaching our potential and being contented and happy.
For some people this might look like a big job or fame while for another person it might be finding a job they enjoy and learning to manage some of the challenges Autism presents.
If you think about that – people who don’t have Autism are exactly the same – success looks different for different people based on individual aspirations and abilities.
But the really important thing to remember is, even if you have to go about things differently, you can achieve whatever you dream of
Many people with Autism engage in repetitive behaviours. These can be referred to as “self-stimulatory behaviours” but in our community they are often referred to as “stimming” for short.
Stimming is a repetitive physical or verbal action which a person with Autism does to regulate themselves. There is lots of research into the causes of stimming and people have slightly different ideas on what precisely stimming is and why people with Autism do it.
We want to help you understand it though using a simple analogy:
If you consider a computer and what happens when you download lots of files at once – it may slow down, it may freeze and then you may hear the fan going off in the computer. The fan cools the computer down, ensures it doesn’t overheat and helps the computer get back to normal.
In the same way, people with Autism are processing a huge amount of information constantly – from trying to read various social situations, through to all the activity in a sensory environment. The brain can get a little overwhelmed as a result and involuntarily a person with Autism will often begin to stim – this behaviour can look very different in different people from flapping hands to making a noise or running on tiptoes.
When a person with Autism stims it helps to relieve this overload, express how the person is feeling and restore concentration levels. While some people with Autism may need help managing their stimming, if they become over-dependent on it or it prevents them from taking part in day to day activities, many people will describe stimming as extremely relieving and an important self-regulation tool.
So when you see a person stim, avoid staring or drawing attention – its just a person doing what they need to do!
When you are in an unfamiliar situation or are unsure what is going to happen in a social situation, you may well get anxious.
People with Autism experience the unknown, the unfamiliar and the uncomfortable on an ongoing basis this means that very day to day activities can cause a person to become very anxious or stressed.
This can be reduced by giving a person as much predictability as possible, reassuring the person and providing a quiet area for a person to go to if they need space.
People with Autism often find it very difficult to predict social situations – in other words to know how to behave, how to expect others to behave and what is likely to happen.
Additionally, many people with Autism find it hard to notice the subtle differences in social situations (e.g the difference between crying with happiness or crying with sadness)
This means that many day to day social situations can cause a lot of stress and anxiety for a person with Autism and so a lot of people with Autism try to limit the unknowns or unexpected in a social situation by sticking to a routine or keeping things the same.
Keeping things the same means less unpredictability which means less stress and anxiety. A sudden change in routine or plans can cause a person with Autism to become very stressed or anxious, not just because the plan has changed but because it leaves the person unsure what to expect next.
People with Autism have the same senses as everyone else, however the way the senses develop or work may be a little bit different.
People with Autism can be hyper or hypo sensitive to their surroundings at any given time. For some people this might mean noises, textures, smells, tastes or sights can be very overwhelming and difficult to process all at once. While others may need very strong noises, textures, smells tastes and sights to get the same imput as others may get from normal levels of sensory activity.
This also means people with Autism often have sensory inputs they like and find relaxing and those which are very hard to manage or even unbearable e.g a crying baby or the smell of perfume.
You might think “we all have things we dislikes” however this isn’t just something a person dislikes, rather it is something which makes it very hard for the person to focus on anything else or cope in their surroundings – think nails down a blackboard but only you can hear it.
All of this means, certain environments, such as crowded corridors or busy bars or restaurants, can be very difficult for a person with Autism to cope in or can be very exhausting
So be SENSEible guys
Not necessarily but possibly.
Autism often co-occurs with other condition.
Some people with Autism also have an intellectual disability. Other people may have another developmental conditions such as Dyslexia, Dyspraxia or ADHD. People with Autism may also have epilepsy or experience bowel problems.
There is lots of ongoing research into this but on practical level it means that every person with Autism has very different experiences. Autism affects everyone differently to begin with. People with Autism also have personalities like everyone else – different strengths and different challenges, and as well as those two variables people with Autism may also be dealing with other conditions.
This is why it is so important not to stereotype but get to know each individual with Autism and their own needs and experiences.
Someone with Autism may talk about one subject a lot if it they are interested in it. It is not known why special interests or obsessions and autism tend to go together.
However, if a person is interested in a certain topic, they are either extremely interested in it or not interested in it at all. Also, when you are learning about a certain subject, such as space, you can learn concrete facts. The facts remain the same to everyone, it is not based on judgement. This can make a subject appealing to someone who has autism.
Being interested and knowledgeable about something can be a good thing. It could help the person direct the type of work they would like to do. However, sometimes it can be difficult if it takes up all of a person’s time and it is inhibiting them from making friends or distracting from work or college.