OPINION: On World Autism Day spare a thought for those who see the world very differently

Daily column - a view of Donegal through the coronavirus and beyond

World Autism Day - there is a place for everyone in society

World Autism Day - there is a place for everyone in society

April 2 is World Autism Day. I always found it quite poignant that it is also my mother’s anniversary given that she worked for many years in special education.

Her work was very close to her heart, and she always tried to see the world from the perspective of the children she taught, especially those on the autism spectrum.

What a strange world that must be right now. Routine and consistency are vital to many people with autism, from getting up and going to school or work, to the food they eat and the people with whom they interact.

All of these things have gone by the wayside, and not everyone will be able to understand why that has happened. For some, it will be disconcerting and they will continue to get by, though with increased anxiety. 

But for others this level of change will be incomprehensible. They may lack the ability to communicate their confusion, leading to meltdowns that could make them a danger to themselves or others.

There must be enormous strain on carers right now; parents and siblings who even without lockdown are facing challenges most of us wouldn’t understand and will never have to face. They are doing phenomenal things for those they love. If you know someone in that position, be aware that they most likely need support right now. 

Today on World Autism Day, remember that not everybody’s world is the same. The very least we can do is accept and respect each other and know that every single person has a place and a role in our society. Because if we all saw the world in the same way, how would we ever learn and grow and innovate and create?

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