On Autism And Isolation

Source: The Muslim Vibe

Source: The Muslim Vibe

Adam writes about autism and how isolating it can be.

**This article was originally posted on The Bristol Journal and is reproduced with permission of the editor.**

..over 1 in 100 people living in the UK currently have been diagnosed with some form of autism.

Over 1 in 100 people in the UK are living with autism and due to the lack of support, 33% of them are experiencing mental health problems (anxiety and depression).

Yes that is correct, over 1 in 100 people living in the UK currently have been diagnosed with some form of autism. If families are included in these figures, a total of over 2.8 million people are affected as a result of those living with autism.

Dealing with the way we handle those with autism and the social stigma of those with the disability has become a bigger and more demanding issue which we must address as a whole.

Even though a huge percentage of the population are affected by this disability, we are still plagued as a society with the problem of people not understanding the illness, how to handle those with the disability and foremost tackling the issues surrounding the integration into society and tackling the issues with bullying and discrimination.

Gathered from Statistical first release January 2015, Department for Education

  •  Children in education: 8.4M
  • w/ autism: 84,000
  • w/ autism and suspended:  14 ,230

These statistics are estimations based on statistics gathered from multiple sources.

There are functional ways you can deal with these issues, I would say from personal experience and knowledge that the main underlying reason why autistic children present signs of anti-social behavior is not because they are naughty. These usually stem from being put in a stressful situation in which they do not feel comfortable and the material you are teaching them is too much for them to take in at once.

Autistic children absolutely despise confrontation and it makes their anxiety even worse. Anxiety tends to kick in the flight or fight response in the human body and so if put in a stressful and anxiety-inducing situation – expect the child to either try to run or fight you verbally or physically, sometimes both.

I personally suggest that, using the special education departments within the schools, we not only create an environment in which the student can escape the overwhelming classroom and not only relax, but also to make time to discover what that particular student enjoys in his spare time and figure out how you can adapt his education to match his personal needs and even begin developing his career path and what they want to do when they finish their education.

70% of autistic adults admit they are not getting support from social services which not only do they need, but would also help combat isolation.

This problem is one I personally am suffering from and it is infuriating and depressing that this is still happening within the UK right now.  Even with the help of special education services, those on the autistic spectrum find it was difficult transitioning their social skills to that when they become an adult.

One in three autistic adults experience mental health difficulties from lack of support.

With another vital piece of statistical information, almost one in ten people experience a mixture of anxiety and depression. These statistics were gathered back in 2009, but is still relevant today.

1 in 300 people within the UK are those within the autistic spectrum, are in adulthood and are suffering from anxiety and depression due to social isolation.

We are spending £11.48 billion on mental health treatment and a good fraction of that could be better spent preventing the conditions, which are the causes of social isolation, anxiety and depression, rather than trying to treat it.

According to statistics, 40% of young adults with autism don’t see their friends and half of those were not receiving phone calls or being invited to activities, based on a research paper submitted in the Journal of Autism and Developmental disorders. According to researchers, 28% of those on the spectrum have no social contact at all.

‘Difficulty navigating the terrain of friendships and social interaction is a hallmark feature of autism. Nonetheless, many people with autism do indeed have a social appetite. They yearn for connection with others. We need better ways of supporting positive social connection and of preventing social isolation.’

– Paul Shattuck, Washington University

I would recommend that the local council creates a program to assist in not only the re-integration of those with autism and mental health issues back into society using not only social clubs and other activities but also tasks which are more structured and set in stone.

I also suggest developing systems, which assist in the social transition between the educational system and adulthood for those with autism.

This would drastically decrease the amount the NHS spend on treating mental health and in turn even help combat the number of reported mental health emergencies.

My experience living with autism has its stressful moments and there are times I cannot handle the situations I am dealt, I can seem odd at times and I do prefer the world in my own head as it can seem more real and cheerful than the one I see myself in at the time.

Having autism does not mean I randomly scream in the middle of the high street, this doesn’t mean I am extremely good at maths and I am not bound to a strict day-to-day schedule like people with autism higher on the spectrum.

The best way I can describe having autism is that the experience is quite similar to being locked inside a cage whilst partially blindfolded at times. Autism makes you feel like you are locked inside your body, not being able to tell people what you are actually thinking and feeling because you are always expecting the worst.

Being in an environment I feel comfortable in and focusing on a subject I enjoy helps me a lot when dealing with my disability and if I am doing a task I enjoy, the symptoms tend to fade away.

Being such a huge success into how we, as a society, can improve the everyday functions and social skills of those living with autism.

The way I deal with having autism is by pushing myself no matter what I am doing. I never accept where I am as permanent and that has been helping me a great deal. I have moments where I cannot handle what is happening around me but I push on because no matter how scared I really am, I know that the problem will be gone sooner or later.

To help me deal with everything I rely on tasks which I enjoy doing and challenge me in ways which satisfy my knack for creativity and solving problems.

One tool at my disposal which helps me deal with these issues and was a good stepping stone towards developing my social skills was a Minecraft server known as Autcraft

Autcraft is an invite-only Minecraft server designed for children and adults living with autism. Even though the server is regulated by strict rules, the entire idea of the server is to create a safe haven online in which individuals living with autism have a place online which they feel safe, are free from bullying all whilst developing their cognitive and social skills and can be free to be themselves.

We need to deal with this issue we have because mental illness is costing the NHS and taxpayers more than double that spent on treating cancer.

Back in 2013, a web developer called Stuart Duncan launched an online Minecraft server and community specifically for those with autism after he realized that so many parents whom had kids with autism were struggling to find a server online where they could improve their social skills and not be bullied because of who they are.

Realising that there wasn’t a server out there for those with autism who wanted this safe environment, he decided to launch a server for this specific need.

Within the time span of about 24 hours, he had received around about 750 emails from parents asking if they could have their child white-listed on the server.

The server has been gaining popularity and it recently hit the milestone (on the 10th May) of 7000 people on the server (people whom have been given access to play on the server.)

Being such a huge success into how we, as a society, can improve the everyday functions and social skills of those living with autism.

I would recommend that local councils collaborate with the NHS and schools to develop programs in which those with autism can get together on a regular basis at a designated community center for activities which help those with autism improve their social skills, can be themselves and are in an environment which they feel safe and are not under the risk of being bullied.

I also suggest, as mentioned before, that schools strongly consider developing programs and classes during term times to help children have a smoother transition into adulthood, even for those without autism or any other disability.

We need to deal with this issue we have because mental illness is costing the NHS and taxpayers more than double that spent on treating cancer.

Check out Brandon Trust, supporting young people living with autism

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