Advocating for your autistic needs
It can be incredibly difficult navigating how to put support in place when you finally find out you’re autistic, or even knowing what support you’re entitled to. Hopefully, this article will point you in the right direction and help you advocate for your autistic needs.
Understanding your autistic needs
Firstly, one of the most important things is to understand what being autistic means for you. This was something I struggled with as I thought most of my experiences and feelings were universal until I did some further reading and began to understand myself better. Remember, not every autistic person is the same so support needs to be tailored to the individual.
Key areas to focus on:
- Hypersensitivity and hyposensitivity to sensory output
- Social interaction
- Communication style
- Behaviour and habits.
Understanding how all of these areas can lead to you feeling overwhelmed will allow you to have more control over your daily life. Remember that these aspects can all vary depending on the environment or setting you’re in. You should also consider your long-term and short-term goals when considering your support needs and what can help you achieve them. If you’re having trouble articulating any of this you can always ask family, friends, or staff who know you well for help as well as other professionals who have a good understanding of autism.
Getting support put in place
Not everyone will have the same experience of getting support put in place, some places are more than happy to and will help guide you along the way it simply depends on the special educational needs team present. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for many of us to actually get the support put in place simply because the other party lacks an understanding of autism (which leads us to becoming the experts).
My advice for situations like this is that it helps to have some understanding of laws and acts in place (such as the Equality Act) to know your rights and what support you’re entitled to. Familiarise yourself with disability schemes, allowances, and equipment that might be available. I advise keeping a record of all documents and reports with healthcare officials and have them readily available. Even keep track of when you contact staff and other professionals through email. Having a paper trail of everything means that professionals are less likely to go back on their word, which sadly can happen. Don’t be afraid to contact the next administration level above when you feel like the other party is not cooperating with you. It can take time so persistence and consistency is key.
Lastly, don’t forget to rely on others since advocating for your needs can be overwhelming, frustrating, and even exhausting.
About the author
Aishah is a member of the Ambitious Youth Council.