World Autism Awareness Week 2020

30 March 2020

World Autism Awareness Week 30 March to 5 April

This week is World Autism Awareness Week and with the help of autistic people and their families, the National Autistic Society has created handy tips to support autistic people.

As one in 100 people are autistic if each of us can understand how better awareness and small adjustments can help break down some of the barriers autistic people face we can help create a society that works for the 700,000 autistic people in the UK.  Please take a look at the following and consider how you could help with small changes.

1. Autistic people may feel anxiety about unexpected changes or events

Top Tips

  1. Give people as much notice as possible about changes to plans or events that they may not be expecting
  2. If someone is distressed because of changes or unexpected events, give them time to calm down
  3. Understand that what might feel like a small change or a nice surprise to you, can seem very scary to some people

2. Autistic people may be under- or over-sensitive to sound, smells, light, taste and touch.  This is called sensory sensitivity

Top tips

  1. Provide a quiet space to retreat to when needed
  2. Understand that autistic people can be extremely sensitive to things like noise, bright lights or certain types of touch - for some even hugging can be painful
  3. If you know you are going to places with bright lights or loud noises, give people advance warning so they can plan for this or prepare themselves

3. Autistic people may need extra time to process information, like questions or instructions

Top tips

  1. Take time to explain things clearly and give people time to process and respond
  2. Remember clear communication is good for everyone
  3. At work or school, make sure important points like rules or instructions are given in writing

4. Autistic people may face high levels of anxiety in social situations

Top tips

  1. When arranging social events give plenty of notice and as much information of what to expect as possible
  2. Provide a quiet calmer space at your event where people can retreat to
  3. Think about how to alleviate the anxiety - like sitting your autistic guest next to someone they know 

5. Autistic people may have difficulties communicating and interacting with others 

Top tips

  1. Do not rely on body language or facial expressions as some autistic people can struggle with this
  2. If someone is having difficulty communicating, give them time.  If you still don't get a response, try re-phrasing what you said
  3. Try to avoid any irony, sarcasm, abstract language and idioms as some autistic people find it difficult to understand.  use clear language and say what you mean.

For further information and support visit the National Autistic Society website at

For guidance and useful information for autistic people during the Corona Virus click here