What is autism spectrum disorder?

World Autism Awareness Week: Charity says autism should be viewed as a difference not a disorder

'We are absolutely committed to changing attitudes and to showing the positive contributions that people with autism can make'

Sarah Young@sarah_j_young
Sunday 31 March 2019 09:04

A charity has launched a new awareness campaign encouraging people to view autism as a development difference, not a disorder.

The campaign to publicise autism as a different way of thinking rather than a condition that can be cured has been announced by Inspiring Scotland – a charity working to bring together communities and organisations to drive social change – and the Scottish Government.

The scheme will also highlight the strengths of people with autism ahead of World Autism Awareness Week which starts on Monday.

As part of the campaign, the government has announced that the national autism implementation team will work with Queen Margaret University to improve diagnosis and care for children and adults with autism and other neurodevelopmental issues, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

This will include working with Scottish Autism – a leading authority and advocate for good autism practice – to improve support for newly-diagnosed autistic people and their families and moves to update the autism resource available to schools.

Mental health minister Clare Haughey says: “We want Scotland to be an inclusive society in which everyone can play a full role and we are absolutely committed to changing attitudes and to showing the positive contributions that people with autism can make.

”These next steps will build on the work and progress we have made since the Scottish Government published the first Scottish Strategy for Autism in 2011.

“We want everyone to receive the support they need to reach their full potential, in the most suitable environment with a range of provisions in place to ensure this is the case.”

Celia Tennant, Inspiring Scotland chief executive, says: “These steps aim to increase society's understanding of autism, to move away from stereotypes and to make clear the many strengths autistic people bring to society.

”We are proud to be a partner in this programme and look forward to working with autistic people, charities and organisations to create change for autistic people in Scotland.“

Dr Alison Rennie, who sits on the Scottish Government's children and young people's mental health taskforce, praised moves towards an approach based more on needs and less on diagnosis.

Rennie says: “A key aim will be prevention of future mental health issues and promotion of the positive contribution of neurodiversity in our society.”

The news comes after actor Amy Schumer revealed that her husband, Chris Fischer, was diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

In a new Netflix special titled Amy Schumer: Growing, the 37-year-old comedian talked openly about her personal life, including her marriage and her husband’s health.

“I knew from the beginning that my husband’s brain was a little different than mine,” Schumer says in the hour-long stand-up show.

“I have to start this over because I really want to get this right because I love him very much.

”My husband was diagnosed with what used to be called Asperger’s. He has an autism spectrum disorder. He’s on the spectrum.”

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The I Feel Pretty actor said there were early signs of the condition when she first started dating Fischer, who she married in 2018.

“Once he was diagnosed, it dawned on me how funny it was, because all of the characteristics that make it clear that he’s on the spectrum are all of the reasons that I fell madly in love with him. That’s the truth,“ she said.

“He says whatever is on his mind. He keeps it so real. He doesn’t care about social norms or what you expect him to say or do."

You can find out more about autism spectrum disorder here.

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