Lack of autism awareness in the Isle of Man

By Gemma Nettle   |   Reporter   |
Monday 12th September 2022 10:38 am
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Lawrie Hooper MHK (Other 3rd Party )

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There is a lack of autism awareness among the public and professionals in the island, according to the findings of a government consultation.

The consultation was designed to provide feedback and suggestions to shape the first National Autism Strategy for the Isle of Man.

In total, 392 people responded, including 120 autistic, 188 parents, partners, relatives or friends, as well as carers and professionals from various fields.

It asked a range of questions about autistic people’s experiences, needs and values to give a better understanding of the services and support required, according to the government. Two of the most common themes that needed addressing were availability and mental health, including the narrow eligibility criteria to receive support and how this is delivered.

Respondents also raise the lack of autism awareness among the public and professionals on the Isle of Man as an issue.

One respondent said: ‘I think of my autism as a superpower. Ignorance and prejudice from others as well as society not understanding my autism is what is problematic and causes me pain and issues daily.’

Minister for Health and Social Care Lawrie Hooper MHK said: ‘This consultation has gathered some really useful information and emotive comments, hearing directly from our autistic community to outline their needs and provide suggestions will help us shape a strategy that works.

‘That doesn’t mean we need to wait for the strategy to start making changes, the community has made some really simple achievable suggestions on how businesses and the public can make our island a more autism friendly environment.’

When asked what kinds of adjustments can help to include people and make them feel more accepted, those rated most helpful were reducing noise levels, giving people plenty of time to prepare, time to think, process and adjust, not keeping people waiting, being given detailed and precise instructions and accurate information, and being offered different ways to communicate (phone or email).

It’s intended that this strategy will cover everything from education, resources and support to work and reasonable adjustments.

The National Autism Strategy will be published in December 2022.

The full detailed report is available to read on the autism consultation webpage.

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