Birmingham shining a light on autism

Autism campaign posterThe Library of Birmingham will turn blue next week, joining the likes of Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and Niagara Falls, in a major global campaign to raise awareness about autism.

The library is one of thousands of high profile buildings and landmarks across the world that plan to ‘Light It Up Blue’ for World Autism Day on Wednesday April 2. The building will be bathed in blue light from 5pm.

And people across the city with autism will also find themselves in the spotlight as part of a push from Birmingham City Council and Autism West Midlands to highlight the issue of Autism in adults in Birmingham.

The campaign will include:

  • A series of posters featuring local adults with autism, and highlighting the strong individuality of people with the condition.
  • A new website – www.autismwestmidlands.org.uk/aware
  • A radio campaign
  • Bus and train advertisements.

On Tuesday April 1 a new Advice and Guidance service will be launched in Birmingham to help adults with autism understand their condition, the support they may need for it and how that support can be accessed.

World Autism Day also sees the launch of Connect, the UK’s first ever autism social network. Launched and managed by Autism West Midlands, the site aims to connect members of the autism community and show them that they are not alone.

The campaign follows the successful launch last year of Birmingham’s three-year Autism Strategy Vision for adults over 18. Developed by the Birmingham Partnership Autism Board, the city’s strategy will ensure that services are in place to meet the needs and deliver better outcomes for those people with the condition, and support their families living in Birmingham to care for them.

Councillor Steve Bedser, Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing said: “Birmingham has a strong partnership approach to the way we support and care for people with autism in the city, and the launch of the Advice and Guidance Centre underlines that commitment.

“The campaign reflects the positive side of autism and shows just how much potential each individual has, and I urge everyone to go on to the campaign website to find out more about some of the amazing people involved.”

Dr Ashok Roy, Chair of the Birmingham Autism Partnership Board, said: “The Birmingham Adult Autism Strategy sets out to raise autism awareness in the city, for ordinary people as well as frontline staff such as general practitioners and the police. We are building on this to develop a number of diagnostic services for people who are suspected of having autism, and providing social and employment opportunities in the local community.”

Notes to Editors:

autismwestmidlands.org.uk/aware

Launched by Autism West Midlands to accompany the campaign, this new mini-site has detailed information about autism and support available in the city. It also has full details of the campaign, including a Flashmob on 5th April and a Silly Sock Day that organisations and schools can take part in!

Light It Up Blue

The Library of Birmingham joins a worldwide list of locations partaking in the LIUB campaign, including the Empire State Building, the Sydney Opera House and Niagara Falls to mark World Autism Awareness Day. Last year’s event saw more than 7,000 iconic structures and landmarks in 90 countries take part.

e-learning

The city council have commissioned Autism West Midlands to deliver an e-learning package, which is being rolled out across a range of professions and groups who come into contact with people with autism, including GPs and social workers.

Post-Diagnosis Advice and support for Adults with autism

Starting in May 2014, this service will support adults with autism who have just received the diagnosis. The service will provide one-to-one advice sessions, workshops on understanding autism, social and life skills workshops and social activities and groups. The service will be delivered by Autism West Midlands and is funded by Birmingham City Council.

Aspire Options Programme

Autism West Midlands deliver the Options programme for adults with Asperger Syndrome or Higher Functioning Autism. The programme is funded by Birmingham City Council to support people who are struggling to know what to do with their future.

About Autism

  • Autism is a life-long condition affecting around 1.1% of the population. It affects all races, classes and intellectual abilities. It is a spectrum condition meaning that it affects people differently and to varying degrees.
  • Everyone with autism is different. Whilst some people with autism lead independent lives, some need lifelong care. Others will need some degree of support, which will change over the course of their lifetime.
  • Autism is not a learning disability – about half of all people with autism have average or above-average intelligence – or a mental illness. However, one in three people with autism develop mental health difficulties due to the challenge of adapting to society with inadequate support.
  • People with autism often also have issues with sensory processing. They can either be over- or under-sensitive to any of their senses (sight, smell, touch, hearing, taste, balance and awareness of self in space).
  • There is no cure for autism but early diagnosis and specialist support can greatly improve the quality of life of people with autism.
  • Autism is a hidden condition, meaning that it is often difficult to tell that someone has autism. Lack of autism awareness can lead to misunderstandings about the reasons that a person with autism may behave in a certain way. This can sometimes increase anxiety and depression in people with autism. Increasing autism awareness is key to ensuring that people with autism receive the right support and understanding throughout life.
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