Little Heroes ASD Support is made up of dedicated parent volunteers who have stood up for their children and at times had to fight the system for support and for their voices to be heard.
The Westcliff-based support group used Autism Acceptance and Awareness Week as an opportunity to dispel some myths about autism.
They put up ten eye-catching banners busting the autism myth around Southend.
Chloe Fazakerley, marketing manager for Little Heroes ASD, said, “There are so many myths surrounding autism that we thought it was the perfect time to clear them up.”
Chelsea Short and her partner Tom have experienced first-hand people who misunderstand autism.
Her son Lenny is autistic and sometimes people have commented on his behavior.
Chelsea said: “We’ve been told some horrible things in the past. We love going to Center Parcs, we were there once, and my son Lenny doesn’t eat at the table, yet he loves dining with us. He sits there having a good time, sometimes he gets up and makes noise, but that’s Lenny.
“One time we were there and having dinner, and he had bought some napkins and he started ripping them and making noise. The people behind us were shaking their heads and clicking their tongues.
“They have no idea. She used to tell people that she had autism when she was making noise, but nowadays not anymore. People are going to have their opinions and it’s not up to me to change them. I think society needs to change the way it views autistic children and also be more tolerant in general.”
Chelsea and her family love Little Heroes ASD Support and all they have done for them.
“The charity is very supportive and for example we know that the Easter holidays are in order for us because we can go to the autism friendly activities and siblings are welcome,” Chelsea said.
“Little Heroes is a wonderful charity, and they are very helpful in many ways.”
Kay Howell wants to dispel the myth that people with autism will not be successful in life or maintain a career.
Her husband Tim has autism and is a technical service manager for Stobart and their son Henry also has autism.
Kay said: “A myth I would like to bust is that people with autism will not be successful or have a good job, but my husband is proof that this is not the case. My husband Tim has autism and he is very smart.
“My husband was only diagnosed when he was in his early thirties and had been labeled a loud and disruptive kid at school. Today we know more about autism and we support children at school.”
Kay has spent a lot of time learning about autism and about herself as a neurotypical person, so that she can be the best support for both of them.
“I am a neurotypical person and it has taken me time to understand what people with autism are like, and once you understand that, it all makes sense. I believe in self-development, it means I can be understanding and supportive of my son Henry.”
The ten myths about autism that are not true:
Myth 1, everyone is a little bit autistic. Fake. Everyone has autistic traits at different times to some degree. But you’re only autistic if your brain is built that way.
Myth 2 autism is a mental health condition. Fake. Autism is a cognitive difference between people. It should not be seen as a defect or problem and does not need to be addressed. It is simply a difference.
Myth 3. Autism mainly affects children. Fake. People are autistic all their lives.
Myth 4. All autistic people have learning difficulties. Fake. Many autistic people have learning difficulties, some may require additional support, however above all patience and understanding is needed.
Myth 5. Autistic people do not feel empathy. Fake. Autistic people feel the same empathy as everyone else, however they may not show their empathy in the way you would expect.
Myth 6. All autistic people are the same. Fake. The autism spectrum is broad and no two people share exactly the same traits.
Myth 7. You can tell someone is autistic by looking at them. Fake. Autism does not have a look, nor does it have visible characteristics that identify it.
Myth 8. Autistic people like to be alone, they are antisocial. Fake. Autistic people find socializing to be more tiring, especially if they try to be inconspicuous. However, this is not being antisocial. Myth 9. Autism didn’t exist much when I was in school. Fake. It may have been that there wasn’t much awareness at the time and people didn’t recognize that autism was there.
Myth 10. Autism can be cured. Fake. It is not a disease. You cannot cure or overcome autism. There will be events throughout the week.
For more information visit www.littleheroesasd.co.uk.