What is autism?
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability which affects 1 in 100 people. It affects the way a person communicates and how they experience the world around them.
Imagine being in a foreign city. You do not understand the language, facial expressions or social cues – they are alien, perhaps frightening. That is how some people with autism have described everyday lives.
You may know someone with autism – a family member, a child of a friend or neighbour or someone in your community. The statistics are staggering:
- 1 in 5 children with autism has been excluded from school
- Over 40% of children with autism have been bullied at school
- Only 15% of adults with autism are in full time work
Who are Ambitious about Autism?
Ambitious about Autism is the national charity for children and young people with autism. Our ambition is to make the ordinary possible for more children and young people with autism. By ordinary, this can mean activities such as going shopping, a trip to the swimming pool or cinema and a family day out.
We provide services, raise awareness and understanding, and campaign for change.
- Through TreeHouse School and Ambitious Support we offer specialist education and support.
- Talk about Autism is our online community to provide support and advice to parents, carers, family members, people with autism, and professionals.
All our work apart from TreeHouse School is funded entirely through voluntary donations.
That is why events such as the Bordeaux to Paris team challenge are so important to help us to support many more children and young people with autism.
A case study – Conor’s Story
By the time my son Conor was three he had lost all of his words and was completely away in his own world. I felt as though I had lost my bright little boy.
Conor’s original diagnosis was a ‘severe learning disability with autistic features’. The most upsetting aspect was his self-injuring behaviours – the hand biting and head butting. He used to lie down in the bathroom and just bang his head against the floor. Not even the Clinical Psychologist knew why he was doing it. There was also the aggression – the head butting other people, hitting, punching and biting.
Then we discovered TreeHouse School: a specialist school for children and young people with severe and complex autism run by Ambitious about Autism and we’ve never looked back. Conor has learnt to communicate using a picture exchange system which he uses at home as well as at school. Conor now has the tools to communicate so the self-injury and anger happen much less frequently.
He is so much happier now, and has a few words he uses a lot of the time, which is very exciting. With the tools to communicate, Conor’s self-injury and anger has reduced dramatically.
Ambitious about Autism is changing Conor’s life, and it’s changing ours too.
I just want the same as all other parents – for my son to continue making progress in a setting that suits him and where he can have the expertise to support him. I know that with the right opportunity and support he can continue to learn and move towards a more independent and fulfilling life.
Alison – Conor’s Mother