Council challenging misconceptions of autism

WSCC logo
WSCC logo

Autism groups across West Sussex will be joining with the West Sussex County Council on April 2 in helping to address misconceptions of the condition.

The day marks World Autism Awareness Day, and the county council wants members of the public to start rethinking what people with autism are capable of.

It is estimated there are approximately 7,000 adults with autism in West Sussex.

The image many members of the public have about people with autism is that they are all geniuses with numbers but are unable to cope in society or in the work place.

However, this is only part of the picture.

Peter Catchpole, county council’s cabinet member for adult social care and health, said: “We have put many pieces of the jigsaw in place in our development of services for adults with conditions such as autism or Asperger’s and its related conditions as life can be challenging for these groups of people, especially when there is an unexpected change in their circumstances.

“However, it is vital that we raise awareness of autism and challenge preconceived notions.

“It is time people understood more about autism and realised it isn’t just one type of condition nor that people with autism are affected in the same way.

“What’s more important is that there is a vast amount of untapped potential among people with autism and we want employers to realise this, which we already do at West Sussex County Council.”

Anna Lansley, facilitator for the West Sussex Asperger’s Awareness Support Group, said: “Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism, is an invisible neurological social impairment, and there are many popular stereotypes and misconceptions which I hope this event, aptly called ‘Beyond the Stereotype’, will address.

“Only about 15 per cent of adults with autism are in work, and this needs to change. The event will hopefully provide potential employers with a positive understanding of the contribution people with autism can offer to the workplace, given the right support and reasonable adjustments.

“For example, I am an adult with Asperger’s syndrome and I work as a group facilitator for the West Sussex Asperger’s Awareness Self-Advocacy group, as an employee of the charity Impact Initiatives.

“Despite having chronic anxiety, I am able to fulfil this role because I have been given the right support and understanding. I have become much more confident since I started work almost two years ago.”