The coronavirus pandemic has been challenging for so many of us, and it’s been particularly tough for autistic people and their families.
World Autism Awareness Week aims to educate those unaware of autism, and highlight how to help make the world friendlier to those who are affected by it.
Former A Level student Georgia on autism and support
Georgia, who is autistic, studied A Level Photography at the College’s High Pavement Sixth Form, and during her time with us she had a photo featured by Vogue Italia on their photo website.
She achieved an A grade and progressed to Leeds Arts University to study a Fashion Photography degree.
I’m autistic, and personally I prefer that description, rather than seeing it as ‘having autism’. That’s just because it is me, and I am it, rather than a separate thing. But it’s different for everyone.
"Day-to-day life can be tough, when you factor in sensory overload and general anxiety, but I know that being autistic is the reason why I take the photographs I do. I have always paid attention to the small details and have always thought outside the box.- Georgia
“The biggest myth for me that is so infuriating and damaging, is the idea that autistic people don’t have any empathy. That somehow they can’t empathise with other people or feel their emotions. We actually do, but the way that we feel emotions is very strong – that’s why we struggle with emotional regulation.
“For me, and I think this is common for autistic individuals, I can feel emotions and I can actually physically feel someone else’s pain. It can be overwhelming. I actually think autistic people are the most accepting and understanding, as we really know how it feels.”
How to support someone who is affected by autism
“First of all, it’s so simple but just listen to them. If they want to talk to you, let them talk about it, and if they give you suggestions, take them on board.
“Another thing would be to not get offended if they have a day where they don’t talk much. It takes a lot of energy to talk, so it’s not personal, they might be regulating their feelings. They might have little behaviours as well that might not seem normal, such as wearing ear defenders to help them with noise.”
I had a mentor from the Learning Support team at College. She was so helpful and there for me at the end of the phone, checking in on me.
"Also, just generally, the atmosphere at College is very laid back, but the teachers really want to help you learn, so it’s a lovely environment to be in.- Georgia