Monday, 29 March 2021

World Autism Awareness Week

Did you know that this week is World Autism Awareness Week?

Autism, autistic spectrum, neurodiverse; it’s likely that you’ve seen these terms popping up more and more over the last year or so. But what do these terms mean, and who has it … and why are we posting about it?

March 29th to April 4th is World Autism Awareness Week, and we’d like to do our bit to raise awareness. In the UK alone, there are around 700,000 adults and children who have been diagnosed with Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD); in the US the number is close to 5.5 million.

As with most things of this nature, the term is firmly rooted in the medical model, so can be a little misleading. Symptoms of ASD are broad – hence 'spectrum’ – affecting communication, anxiety levels, and sensitivity to stimuli, among other things. But it’s not a disease – you can’t catch it, and it’s not something to be cured. There is some debate as to whether it’s a disorder at all, or simply a set of behaviours that are naturally part of the broader spectrum of human behaviours.

Some people’s brains work slightly differently to others (no surprises there), and this causes the symptoms – yes, medical model term again – that’s collectively known as ASD. Neurodiversity is a more inclusive term for people with ASD, and covers a range of conditions, not only autistic spectrum. Whatever term you use, the genes responsible for ASD aren't 'negative'; they have also been linked to increased creativity and heightened problem-solving; many of the things we take for granted today, from technology, to art, and the sciences, were only made possible because the inventors – knowingly or otherwise – had ASD genes or were neurodiverse.

Awareness of neurodiversity and the issues faced by neurodiverse individuals is growing all the time, helped in part by the number of celebrities revealing that they, too, are on the autistic spectrum – from actors including Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, to tech icon and philanthropist Bill Gates, and trailblazing scientist and activist Temple Grandin (a name many of you will be familiar with, and who has an excellent video describing her experiences living with Asperger Syndrome on YouTube) – but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. As is often the case, it seems creativity and neurodiversity are natural companions. There are also more and more adults being diagnosed with ASD, as people recognise their own signs and symptoms.

Depictions of autism, both in literature and film, are also becoming more common, and this has partly helped raise awareness on social media, and levels of discussion. Not only does this mean that there is a much better understanding of the day-to-day challenges faced by people on the spectrum amongst non-neurodiverse individuals, but also that sources of help and advice for neurodiverse people, their families and friends, is more accessible than ever. And that’s a very good thing.

At Hubble & Hattie Kids!, we have a very special neurodiverse friend who you may have seen in our social feeds and website recently – Alice the Aspiesaurus. Alice is the fictional creation of Lucy Martin, and is the world’s first and only known autistic dinosaur, and a leading character in Lucy’s books Different is Good and Helping a friend. The ethos behind the books is to provide neurodiverse children with a way to better understand and cope with their own feelings by learning how Alice deals with situations that she finds difficult or anxiety inducing.

Lucy has drawn on her own experience of living with ASD, sharing the methods and techniques she has developed to deal with challenging situations. All kids, not only ASD children, can relate to Alice and her friends’ situations, which cover school, home life, navigating social environments, and friendships. Lucy’s stories are intended to show that whilst being neurodiverse makes us different, it’s these differences that make us good – and, as the title says, Different is good!

Books aren’t the only way Alice is helping with neurodiversity awareness; Alice has her own facebook page dedicated not only to providing life skills and tips for ASD children, but also to providing genuinely fun, educational, and entertaining content that everyone can enjoy. It’s a fantastic resource for children, adults, and educators, and covers pretty much every topic you can imagine. But don’t take our word for it, see for yourself, and 'follow the dinosaur.'

If you’d like to find out more about Autism Aspergers, and other autistic spectrum conditions, the following organisations can help;

National Autistic Society (UK)

Autism Europe (EU) >

Autism Society (US)

Autistic Spectrum (AUS)

Autism New Zealand (NZ)

Find out more about Alice the Aspiesaurus, and get help and advice with a big dash of fun, on Alice’s facebook page.

Find our more about Alice’s books, and download some fantastic FREE dinosaur fact sheets at

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