Understand Autism | Celebrating Strengths

A man with Autism posing for a photo with his camera at a jetty near Fremantle, Western Australia


Celebrating the strengths of individuals with Autism

What do you see when you look at a tree? For 30 year old Simon, it is every finite detail from the ridges in the bark to the way the light hits the leaves – he absorbs and processes every little element that many of us would miss.

Simon was diagnosed with Autism four years ago and describes it as “a breath of fresh air”, the moment when he could stop being who he was and start playing to his strengths.

“I think it has allowed me to be more ‘me’ and to be my happiest, focusing on my strengths not my weaknesses,” he said.

Long before his diagnosis, Simon was a very quiet child who kept to himself, was bullied at school and struggled with depression and self-harm.  He was shy and kept his chin down, attempting to ‘camouflage’ into the environment. 

“I didn’t feel understood. I felt like I was a burden on my teachers, the other kids and my mum,” he said.

A man with Autism using a computer showing the photos he had taken with his mum

Over the past ten years, Simon has found empowerment through his talent for photography, where his ability to notice and capture the beauty in details adds incredible value to his work.

He said that taking photos makes him feel free, allowing him to focus and push himself while also providing him his own way to cope with depression and anxiety. Through this creative outlet and his diagnosis, Simon feels that he has begun to live his best life possible.

“I’m looking to become really successful with my photography and, in the process, show others what people on the spectrum can achieve in life, plus share my story,” he said.

“As an Autistic individual, I feel like I am in a position now where I can advocate for Autism by talking to and educating people.”

Simon actively takes part in talks and education sessions to do this and often does this together with the Autism Association of WA.  

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.

“We are asking the WA community to join us today in igniting change for people with Autism –  you can do this simply by taking a few minutes to learn and understand more about Autism.

“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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