Autism is different for everyone – but negative attitudes towards it are all the same

Awareness isn’t enough. It’s not acceptable that people’s lack of understanding is causing active harm to autistic people every day, writes James Cusack

Saturday 23 April 2022 16:26 BST
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<p>There is a huge amount of work to be done to transform people’s attitudes towards autism</p>

There is a huge amount of work to be done to transform people’s attitudes towards autism

How you are perceived and understood matters. It affects your ability to form friendships and relationships, to get a job, to get the help you need and to live the life you want to lead.

Most people are aware that this matters and, for example, sometimes make a conscious effort to “make a good first impression”. But if you’re autistic, like me, you have to consider the effect disclosing this will have on their perceptions of you every single day.

As an autistic child, I never got used to being called a “retard” at school. As a teenager, I had to sit through a teacher telling the whole class, in front of me, that it didn’t matter if he made jokes at my expense because I didn’t understand them. As an adult I’ve faced people telling me that I “don’t come across” as autistic at the same time others tell me it’s “obvious” because I exhibit certain (often completely unrelated) behaviours.

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