Celebrating Autistic Children and Young People

April is Autism Awareness Month!

This month is all about celebrating and promoting inclusion for autistic people.

In our office, we are strong champions for supporting autistic children and young people to feel proud, included and comfortable to be themselves.

Did you know?

  • 1 in 100 people in Australia are autistic
  • 1 in 4 Australians have a family member who is autistic
  • Nearly three quarters of autistic people in Australia are children and young people under the age of 25

All children and young people, including those who are autistic, have the right to be treated with respect, to be themselves and get the supports they need. This means:

  • Being included and treated fairly
  • Not being bullied, discriminated against or judged for who they are
  • Access to extra support, if needed, to be able to learn and participate in activities and play.

There are lots of things we can all do to help make sure autistic children and young people have these rights met. To do our part for Autism Awareness Month, our team has put together a few pointers below.

  1. Raising awareness and starting positive conversations

All children, including those who are autistic, have unique personalities, strengths, interests and needs.

Autistic children and young people often face stigma and negative stereotypes about their abilities, communication and behaviours. That stigma can lead to discrimination, social exclusion, negative self-esteem and children and young people isolating from their peers and communities.

Raising awareness about ‘neurodiversity’ – including the different ways that autistic people may physically and socially experience the world around them – helps promote understanding and inclusion.

If you would like to share awareness about autism on social media, in your workplace, school or other community places, you can check out the resources available at Autism SA for promoting Autism Month.  

  1. Learn and share information about neuro-affirming language and practice

Recognising and celebrating neurodiversity is about understanding that our brains work in different ways, and that leads to different abilities, sensory needs and perceptions, and ways of interacting socially.

Some ways are more common or ‘typical’ than others. For autistic children and young people, some of the ways that they perceive and interact with the world may be different to many of their peers. Neuro-affirming practice challenges stigmatisation and negative stereotypes that there is something ‘wrong’ with children who have neurodiverse characteristics or behaviours. Instead, it is based on embracing the strengths and uniqueness of those experiences.

Celebrating strengths – instead of focusing on difference – is an essential ingredient for building positive self-esteem and social inclusion for autistic children and young people.

  1. Be a champion for children’s rights

Autistic children and young people have a fundamental human right to be treated fairly and not be discriminated against.

Challenging unfair treatment and discrimination when we see it can be difficult or confronting – but it’s essential for making sure children and young people of all needs and abilities can grow up safe, well and happy.

We can all be a champion for children’s rights through:

    • Learning about children’s rights
    • Recognising when discrimination occurs, and supporting children and young people who have or are experiencing it
    • Encouraging other people in our organisations, families and communities to take an interest in and promote children’s rights
    • For those who work with children in care – find out if you have a Charter Champion and talk to them about what you can do to promote children’s rights

And, if you have concerns that the rights of a child or young person in care or detention are not being met, you can always contact our team for information or advice. 

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