World Autism Awareness
World Autism Awareness Week 2021 (29th March – 4th April)
Join Jigsaw for World Autism Awareness Week and help promote understanding and acceptance for people with autism.
Below you can find some useful resources to learn more about autism yourself, or to share with your friends, workplace or school.
We are pleased to include a story from one of our families describing the challenges and barriers they’ve overcome and how Jigsaw is supporting their son to achieve their potential. You can also download our guide to Being Autism Aware that contains further information about common challenges for individuals with autism and how you can take simple steps in your day to day life to make the world a better place for people with autism. Our What is Autism? video explains what autism can be like and Jigsaw’s approach to ensuring that everyone with autism has the opportunity to reach their full potential.
Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that everyone experiences it differently. Jigsaw supports individuals with higher needs; in addition to social and communication challenges, our pupils and learners may need support with behaviour that challenges, sensory processing disorders, or personal care.
We believe that with the right support anyone can learn new skills and become more independent, no matter the barriers they face. We put this into practice when supporting Owen. Owen, who is 23, is autistic and has a learning disability. He started at Jigsaw when he was 11 and is now supported at JigsawPlus. His mum Hayley told us about how Jigsaw has helped him develop skills beyond all expectations:
“Owen’s progress at Jigsaw has been absolutely amazing. I had zero expectations for him when he was younger because his disability was so severe. He’s got so many skills now that he would never had had if not for Jigsaw.
The list is endless. Owen’s language was very limited before, but now he speaks and has all his needs met by speech. He reads and can write well, he’s great at using the computer, he swims brilliantly. There are so many things – he’s even learning Spanish! He doesn’t make sentences but he can translate loads of words.
Although Owen won’t ever be able to live on his own he’s got tons of independent skills. Jigsaw have helped him learn to dress himself, wash himself, and feed himself. With supervision he can cook too.
Before, his behaviour was so challenging, it felt like he was out of control. He would pull my hair and bite me. He didn’t understand anything and was very locked away in his autism. Jigsaw have helped close the gap between his world and mine. Now he generalises his skills very well and he references things going on around him, like pointing out what’s happening on TV. He understands and listens to instructions so it’s much easier for me to take him out places and generally have a better relationship with him. Because he has high anxiety levels sometimes he still gets confused and frustrated but overall he’s happy – and he even calls himself Mr Happy!
I’ve sacrificed a lot for Owen and I take my responsibility to him seriously. I’m not someone who gives up easily. But if Owen didn’t have the right support then I wouldn’t be able to have him home with me. He would have had to go into residential care a long time ago because I wouldn’t have been able to manage. Jigsaw gives him the support he needs and if he wasn’t getting that I don’t think I’d be able to sleep at night.”
Please note: individual names and images have been changed to protect their privacy.
You can make a difference for individuals like Owen by making a donation this Autism Awareness Week, whether it’s a one-off gift or by setting up a regular gift through a direct debit. Thank you for your support.
Back in 2008, the United Nations General Assembly unanimously declared 2 April as World Autism Awareness Day (A/RES/62/139) to highlight the need to help improve the quality of life of those with autism so they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. For more information on World Autism Awareness Day, please visit the United Nations’ website: UN.org webpages directly.
“On this World Autism Awareness Day, let us all play a part in changing attitudes toward persons with autism and in recognizing their rights as citizens, who, like everyone else, are entitled to claim those rights and make decisions for their lives in accordance with their own will and preferences.”
Secretary-General António Guterres