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Auti is the smartest autistic robot on the internet!

They have answered a lot of questions about autism but like us all, they are constantly learning.

Try asking Auti a question and see if they have an answer.

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What is Autism?


Autism is both a neurodevelopmental difference and, under the social model, a disability. It varies greatly by individual, and while the DSM and ICD define almost exclusively by communication deficits and repetitive/restricted behaviour, we would like to add that sensory sensitivities (hypo- and hyper-) are extremely common, and that “repetitive/restricted” might be better understood as safe, routine, comforting, interesting, engaging. Sources:
https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/what-is-autism
https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/autism/what-is-autism/
https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/hcp-dsm.html




Is Autism a disability?


The social model of disability suggests that no-one would be disabled if the world accommodated them properly – there’s people with double leg amputations climbing mountains, however we recognise they still have challenges to accessibility and daily life. “Disabled” is not a dirty word! Some autistic people don’t feel disabled, some do; both are valid and should still have supports available to them if they need them.

Sources:

https://www.scope.org.uk/about-us/social-model-of-disability/
https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/social-model-disability-language
https://www.inclusionlondon.org.uk/disability-in-london/social-model/the-social-model-of-disability-and-the-cultural-model-of-deafness/




What is stimming?


What is stimming? Sensory self-stimulation, “stimming” for short, is complex. It can be a self-regulatory coping strategy, or an emotional expression, or a source of enjoyment/interest, and comes in a HUGE variety – neurotypical people also stim occasionally; think about the last time you were tapping a pen, twiddling with a paperclip/elastic band or bouncing your leg! We just tend to do a lot more of it. (Note: if it’s distressing or harmful to the person and the distress is as a result of the behaviour/action and not anything else, it may be something like a tic or OCD behaviour – speak to your clinician.)

Sources:
https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/behaviour/stimming
https://www.spectrumnews.org/news/repetitive-behaviors-and-stimming-in-autism-explained/
https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/information-about-autism/behaviour/repetitive-behaviours-and-stimming




Do vaccines cause Autism?


No. This is not even a debate any more (and shouldn’t have been in the first place!), and it makes many autistic people angry to hear it, because it implies people are more worried about their child being like us than they are about their child DYING. There is a history of these claims that can be explored in the below video. The video 'Vaccines: A Measured Response', although comedically slanted, displays a comprehensive look at the history around the erroneous claims that vaccines have a link to causing autism in young children. (Full video contains adult language and humour)




Can someone with Autism live independently?


Some people may need extra support and some people may not WANT to live independently, however many of us can and do.
Here’s a good place to start:
https://www.nelincs.gov.uk/health-wellbeing-and-social-care/adult-social-care




Can I ask for reasonable adjustments in my place of work and within health services?


Not only can you ask for them, “reasonable adjustments” are a legally protected right under the Equality Act 2010 and the Autism Act (2009 & 2014) – employers have a duty to support and protect staff.

There’s no set definition of “reasonable”, however it can cover all sorts of things such as ergonomic and environment adaptations; an occupational assessment will provide recommendations: https://vrassociationuk.com/




Is lactose intolerance more common in people with ASC?


While it’s true that autistic people are four times more likely to have gastrointestinal issues, people of any neurology can have intolerances and allergies, and there is no conclusive evidence that there’s a specific connection between autism and lactose intolerance (and it’s debatable for gluten intolerance). Speak to your doctor before changing diet – malnutrition is a serious risk when foods are restricted.

Acid reflux is VERY common (up to 70% of us!), and can also present as shoulder tension, back ache and tiredness – so speak to your doctor!




What are a few common traits for Autism?


Diagnosis usually looks for differences in communication, sensory processing, functioning and “restricted and repetitive behaviour”.

We now know that the difference in communication is “bidirectional”: non-autistic people have just as hard a time trying to understand us as we do them and they struggle to recognise our facial expressions.

I always find “restricted and repetitive behaviour” an interesting phrase – non-autistic people often don’t understand how important consistency and reliability are to us, or see how many compromises we may have already made today – if it doesn’t bother them, they don’t notice! They also don’t have as much joy in sensory-seeking (though admittedly they don’t have as many sensory sensitivities either), and their interests tend to be surface-level compared to our tendency to deep-dive into fascinating topics!

We’re known for having a strong sense of justice and fairness and a strong work ethic, we’re usually efficient, consistent and reliable, and pay attention to details.

“If you've met one autistic person, you've met one autistic person”
- Doctor Carrie Grant

“Although autism itself is a spectrum, humanity is not a spectrum between non-autistic and autistic: not everyone is a “little autistic”.”
- Doctor Monique Botha




Can you tell me what would help me manage sensory sensitivities?


You can be hyper- or hypo- (under or over) sensitive across any of your senses, and every autistic person has different sensory profiles, so it’s important to understand your specific sensitivities and build strategies to work with them.

Visual (sight): adjust lighting, consider hats and sunglasses, colour coding and screen apps.
Auditory (hearing): music, headphones, defenders or earplugs, quieter/busier times in public/shops.
Tactile (touch): Firm pressure, experiment with textures of food and clothing and sensory tools.
Gustatory (taste): experiment with flavour and texture combinations, and chewelry.
Olfactory (smell): Clean environment, try different cleaning products, be mindful of expiry dates and check your fire alarm!
Vestibular (balance): Exercise, planning actions, weighted blankets and swings
Proprioceptive (position): Fine-motor tools, exercise and planning actions/activities.




What is the best way to tell others about my Autism?


Whichever way you feel comfortable. The vast majority of autistic people use identity-first language (“I’m autistic” or “I’m an autistic person”).

Lots of non-autistic people have been trained to use person-first language (“person with autism”, “has autism” or “with autism”), however that has problems: it suggests autism is something separate to who we are, and something that can be removed or cured, which sadly often leads to harmful and dangerous “treatments”.

It also sounds a bit strange: we don’t have people with tall.
And it’s a really odd name for a dog, don’t you think? “It’s okay, I’m with Autism, I have Autism – here, Autism, good boy, Autism!”
And more importantly… person-first language suggests there’s a much bigger problem if we have to remind others that we’re “people first”…

Autism is a neurodevelopmental condition. It is the foundation of the way we think, the way we perceive the world - and those two things, thinking and perception, those are what make a consciousness.

You don’t have to disclose at all if you don’t want to. It’s your private medical information after all.

Evidence suggests non-autistic people are inclined to be more accepting and, well, nicer if they’re informed, though this is tied to how much knowledge they have about autism – there’s still a lot of ignorance out there, but we’re working on it.

(It might be worth mentioning it to the people you work with though – there’s protections available to you under the Equalities and Disabilities Acts, and you might also want to click “Is autism a disability?”)

https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1362361315588200
https://www.employmentautism.org.uk/pages/faqs/category/autism-disability-and-the-law
http://web.archive.org/web/20090210190652/http://web.syr.edu/~jisincla/person_first.htm




Autism and relationships, what is normal?


Non-autistics and relationships – what is normal?
Real relationships aren’t like they are on TV – be warned that lots of romantic films, comedies and soap operas are based on unhealthy behaviours.

Some good advice for ANY relationship is for all parties to be equals and to have honesty, respect and trust. Respect works both ways – boundaries are the basis of both self-respect and respecting others, and it’s a good idea for everyone to discuss boundaries ESPECIALLY with people you love.

Some people don’t understand why boundaries and honesty are important.

Autistic people tend to have strong, solid core values – non-autistic people tend to be more flexible, and while both are valid ways of being, they may cause conflict when combined and not understood. The Neuroclastic link below is super informative.

https://www.insider.com/healthy-relationships
https://www.cornerhealth.org/blog/10-ways-to-avoid-abusive-relationships/
https://neuroclastic.com/the-identity-theory-of-autism-values-are-not-opinions-to-autistics-we-are-our-values/




Have you any top tips when advocating for my autistic needs?


Yes – first, know what you need. It sounds obvious, but there’s a big difference between knowing you need something, and knowing WHAT you need!

Make sure to explain WHY a particular solution is suitable for you – it might be obvious to you that the lights are too bright or the music too loud, but non-autistic people tend not to think about things that don’t bother them. It might be worth explaining what strategies you’ve already used to manage the issue(s) too – if nothing else, it might stop people advising you to do things you already did, and they might come up with a good idea too.

https://www.autism.org.uk/directory/a/asd-advocacy
https://www.ambitiousaboutautism.org.uk/about-us/media-centre/blog/advocating-for-your-autistic-needs





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