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Embracing Differences: Identifying Autism in Children

Autism is becoming more prevalent among children in Australia. According to the 2018 Survey of Disability, Ageing and Carers (SDAC), around 205,200 people in Australia have autism, marking a 25.1% increase since 2015.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) encompasses a wide range of characteristics and behaviours. Increased awareness has led to more diagnoses, helping many families understand and support their loved ones better.

What is Autism?

Autism is a broad term for various conditions characterised by developmental neurological differences. These differences can affect social and communicative interactions, but it's important to remember that autism is not a disease or something to be "fixed." Each individual with autism brings unique strengths and perspectives to the world.

The severity and presentation of autism can vary widely. Some individuals are non-verbal, while others may blend into society but still find social interactions challenging. Recognising and embracing these differences can help create a supportive and understanding environment for everyone.

Key Signs to Look Out For

  1. Sensory Sensitivities: Overwhelming reactions to sensory stimuli like noises and crowds.

  2. Understanding Social Cues: Difficulty with non-verbal cues, understanding jokes, and showing or feeling empathy.

  3. Impaired Conversation Skills: Struggling to have a real conversation, often fixating on the same topic.

  4. Repetitive Behaviours: A strong need for routine and resistance to change.

  5. Selective Eating: Limited willingness to try new foods.

Parents and individuals with autism often feel a sense of relief upon receiving a diagnosis. It helps explain long-standing challenges and frustrations, offering a path towards better understanding and support.

Early Diagnosis and Intervention

Early diagnosis and intervention can significantly improve outcomes. With the right support, individuals with autism can lead fulfilling and joyful lives. Professional guidance can help navigate social integration and reduce feelings of isolation.

As swim teachers, we see many different children with varying needs and behavioural tendencies. Knowing about any unique challenges, such as autism, allows us to tailor our lessons to best support each child’s learning process. Understanding these unique needs helps us create a more inclusive and effective learning environment, where all children can thrive and develop essential swimming skills.

If you suspect your child may be on the autism spectrum, seeking a professional diagnosis as early as possible can make a significant difference. Remember, seeking help is a positive step towards understanding and supporting your child’s unique journey.

Helpful Organisations for Autism Support in Australia

  • Autism Awareness Australia Website Autism Awareness Australia offers a range of resources, programs, and events to raise awareness and support for individuals with autism and their families.

  • Aspect (Autism Spectrum Australia) Website Aspect provides services including early intervention, school programs, and adult support services. They also offer training and resources for families and professionals.

  • Autism Association of Western Australia Website This association provides support services, therapy, and educational programs for individuals with autism and their families in Western Australia.

By reaching out to these organisations, you can find valuable resources and support to help your child navigate their unique journey with autism.

A young blond boy wearing a red swim pant is jumping into water with his back to the camera


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