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Autism is one of those conditions that almost everyone has heard of. But how many people really understand it? 

What’s it like to live with autism?

Autistic people see, hear and feel the world differently from other people. It might not be obvious to those around them, but everyday situations can become overwhelming. Depending on where they fall on the autism spectrum, it can be difficult for autistic people to express their emotions and navigate social situations. Even going to the shops can become challenging.

Because autism makes understanding things like jokes, sarcasm and facial expressions difficult, emotions can be misinterpreted and jokes can be met with stony silence. Some autistic people can be intensely interested in seemingly mundane hobbies like memorising birthdays or collecting trivial items. These passions can be harnessed to achieve great things, such as when autism activist Temple Grandin turned an interest in cattle into a career that reduced animal suffering on a truly industrial scale.

Autistic people favour routine over disruption. Confined spaces, large crowds, unfamiliar places and unexpected situations can be deeply distressing for people living with autism. Unfortunately autism is an ‘invisible’ condition. Without awareness of the condition, it’s possible to make situations worse for autistic people without realising it.

That’s why we need more awareness!

The 26th March marks the start of this year’s World Autism Awareness Week, a week where thousands of people like yourself come together to raise money and spread awareness of autism. This action-packed week helps to give everybody the know-how to make life smoother for autistic people. By funding campaigns like Too Much Information, teaching people about the condition and funding volunteers who support autistic children and adults, everyone can help to make a difference. Including you.

This year, the Too Much Information campaign has released a video demonstrating the challenges someone with autism can face. It stars Saskia Lupin, an autism sufferer herself as well as a fantastic actress. She explains: "I struggle a lot with the unexpected changes that can take place: they make me feel anxious, they make me panic, they make me angry. But overall I feel confused, like I can’t do anything and all sense of rationality is lost."

When situations like this occur, it’s important that people know enough about autism to help to calm the situation - or at least not make it worse. World Autism Awareness Week helps to achieve that by funding information campaigns all over the world. Last year World Autism Awareness Week raised £300,000. Got any spare change to help beat that this year?

How can you help?

If you want to get involved the options are limitless! You could hold a cake sale at work, run around town in a onesie or just keep it simple and make a donation. Whatever you do, it all helps to raise awareness. And that’s what counts.

If you’re a resident of London, Bristol, Manchester or Glasgow, grab your walking legs and join the masses on one of the Night Walks, a great chance to raise money and stroll your city in the moonlight. Or try the new 7k for 700k, where fundraising heroes run, cycle, swim or walk 7k for the 700,000 autistic people in the UK.

Fair travel insurance for autism

It can be hard to get reliable travel insurance when you are living with autism. Premiums can be incredibly expensive. Some insurers may refuse to cover you altogether. Here at World First we specialise in medical travel insurance. If you are well enough to travel there’s a good chance we can provide a comprehensive policy for peace of mind at a price that’s fair. Find out more about autism travel insurance at World-First.co.uk.

Recommended reading:

>> Holiday tips for travellers with mental health needs

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