June 20, 2022

Autism is a difference not a disability

Autistic Pride Day was celebrated on 18 June. One of the most significant aspects of the day is that it was run by autistic people themselves.

Autistic Pride Day is represented by the rainbow infinity symbol. This symbol is intended to represent the diversity of autistic people and the infinite possibilities and variations within the autistic community.

According to representatives of Autistic Pride Day, people with autism have unique characteristics that provide them with both rewards and challenges. Although many of the difficulties they face are due to their neurodiversity, another factor are the attitudes of issues in society. For example, society’s attitude towards autism is often one of pity or a belief that it is a condition requiring treatment.

Activists want to shift attitudes away from this and towards acceptance and the realisation that autism is a difference rather than a disability.

Lisa Short , pictured above with her son Daniel and his grandmother, strongly believes this to be the case. “Autism is amazing, unusual, tiring, inspiring, special and majestic. It is just a whole different world we have to learn to live in and with!” says Lisa.

When Lisa was looking for assistance for Daniel’s hospital visits, she emailed Northern Health’s Disability Liaison Officer Program. “I received a phone call back from Maria Bowman, Disability Liaison Officer, the very next day, explaining to me what I needed to do. She organised everything to get him into hospital.”

Lisa goes on to say, “The Disability Liaison Officer Program is amazing! Maria has just been the best and so supportive. The help and information she has given us has made life so much easier.”

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong developmental disorder that is characterized by difficulty with social interaction and repetitive patterns of thought and behaviour.  The severity of the disorder ranges between mild, moderate and severe – with no two manifestations of autism the same.

1 in 70 Australians are diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder. It is more prevalent amongst males compared to females.

According to Aspect – Australia’s largest autism-specific service provider – signs of autism are often broken down into two categories.

The first is social communication issues, such as difficulty understanding when and how to appropriately respond in social interactions, and trouble developing, understanding, and maintaining relationships with others.

The second is repetitive patterns of behavior, including the repetitive use of movement, speech or objects and getting easily upset by changes to routine and environment.

Information on our Disability Action Plan and our Disability Liaison Officer Program, can be found here.  We also have a Northern Autism Spectrum Disorder Assessment Clinic (NASDAC) at our Craigieburn Centre.  For more information about the clinic, please click here or email NASDAC@nh.org.au.