World Autism Awareness Day 2019: ‘We need to move away from the stereotypical media portrayals of the savant genius’

Guest blog written by Annaliese Boucher, Founder and CEO of Sen Talk (pictured above).

On Monday 1st April – Sunday 7th April people all over the UK will be working together to raise awareness for autism thanks to the National Autistic Society Awareness week initiative. Each year, contributions are getting bigger and bigger with more schools then ever taking part in fundraising activities and campaigning. With 1 in 100 individuals estimated to be on the autistic spectrum, it is vital that we open the discussion of autism, to improve understanding, tolerance and acceptance of neuro differences. We need to move away from the stereotypical portrayal presented in the media of the savant genius ‘Sheldon Cooper’ or ‘Rain man’ and support individuals based on their individuality.

Here at Sen Talk we work hard combatting discrimination of autistic children and ensure they are accessing education and enrichment opportunities just like any other child. We provide a range of clubs and activities specifically for neuro diverse children and encourage interest-led play. We have so far provided support for over 150 families within the London Borough of Wandsworth through advocacy and family support. Within this borough it is estimated that 1:49 children are autistic and that the vast majority are attending a mainstream school. A recent inquiry into Education and autism (NAS,2017) suggests that children on the autistic spectrum are now 7 times more likely to experience a fixed term exclusion. This may be because of fixed or dated ideas about autism and it needs to change. Children on the spectrum are more likely to have to access children and mental health services, experience bullying and fall behind academically. On a back drop of funding cuts across statutory services, it is now more important than ever to get the discussion started and find out how we can support our neuro diverse children better.

How to get involved?

Local support

With our numbers rapidly growing with many families’ desperately needing support and assistance we often have to reach out to the public for donations. If you wish to support Sen Talk, you can make a donation directly to our fundraising page. https://www.gofundme.com/sentalk?member=242934

National Support

Why not donate something to the National Autistic Society and keep Autism on the national agenda. www.autism.org, download an Autism Awareness poster www.autism.org, or speak to your school about holding a diversity assembly to get the discussion started.

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