Understand Autism | Breaking down barriers

A lady with Autism in a bring red top walking on the street with her speech pathologist

Greater understanding of Autism is key to breaking down barriers

For many of us, being able to communicate easily with others around us every day is a skill we may take for granted. For some individuals with Autism however, particularly for anyone who has a limited ability to communicate verbally, this can be a significant barrier to inclusion in our community.

This barrier is one that 40 year old Emma faces but having the right support, tools and understanding can make a world of difference.

Described by her support team as “giving and caring with so much to offer”, Emma’s Autism can significantly impact the way she communicates and can present a challenge in her ability to participate.

Fortunately, Emma has a great team who support her to live in her own home. Emma sees her Speech Pathologist, Emily Zanotti, to increase her communication abilities and to help her with important social interactions.

Emily said that it is having people who understand her that makes it possible for Emma to actively participate in her community – for example, the great relationships she has formed with the people in the local store where she goes food shopping.

“Communication can be a challenge for Emma if she doesn’t have her close network around her to help support her interactions in the community,” Emily said.

A lady with Autism in a bright red top using a digital communication device with the assistance of her speech pathologist.

Technology has been another great assistance to Emma in her everyday life – she uses an electronic device which is updated regularly to capture her areas of interest and essentially allows her to use words and expand her ability to communicate wherever she goes.

“She can take the device to the shops, the gym, to see her mum – it is a great tool for expanding her communication,” Emily said.

Emily said that one of the most crucial factors in helping Emma live her best life possible is simply a better understanding in the community about Autism.

“Just having awareness in the community is so important for everyone with Autism,” she said.

“A little bit of compassion and understanding about Autism will significantly improve Emma’s quality of life.”

For this to be possible, it is important to understand that every person experiences Autism differently and has different support needs – no two people with Autism have the same experiences in the way they communicate and interact socially or how they might feel about and respond to their surroundings.

Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), where ‘spectrum’ refers to the wide range of characteristics, skills and abilities unique to each individual with Autism.

The Autism Association of WA Director of Therapy and Clinical Services, Tasha Alach, said that the organisation is working hard to help the community understand Autism better but that it is up to everyone to be open to learning.

“At the Autism Association of WA, we are committed to helping people with Autism live their best life possible and we believe a huge part of this is greater acceptance and understanding in our community.” Ms Alach said.

Through greater understanding and by celebrating every individual’s unique strengths, we can all make sure that everyone can live their best life possible and create a more inclusive community.”

The Association has produced a series of short videos which celebrate the strengths of different individuals with Autism, including Emma, and also have a range of information and resources available.


To learn more, visit www.autism.org.au/understandautism or  Click here!

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