When we diagnose a child or adult with autism spectrum disorder (although we prefer the term autism spectrum condition) it can be both a relief and a shock to them and their family. Clients often tell us that they "feel different" or that they are "not like everyone else". Receiving a formal diagnosis can explain behaviours and give reason to what can be an extremely distressing period in someone's life.
We try to focus on the positive and talk with clients about moving forward giving them options to choose from. There is 'no cure' for ASD, and the reason we prefer to think of it as a condition rather than a disorder is because in most cases autism does not prevent a person from being successful in life.
Stephen Wiltshire MBE
One of the best examples of someone with autism harnessing their strengths is Stephen Wiltshire MBE.
Stephen is an artist who draws and paints detailed cityscapes. He has a particular talent for drawing lifelike, accurate representations of cities, sometimes after having only observed them briefly. He was awarded an MBE for services to the art world in 2006. He studied Fine Art at City & Guilds Art College. His work is popular all over the world, and is held in a number of important collections.
Stephen was born in London to West Indian parents on 24th April, 1974. As a child he was mute, and did not relate to other people. Aged three, he was diagnosed as autistic. He had no language and lived entirely in his own world.
At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London, where it was noticed that the only pastime he enjoyed was drawing. It soon became apparent he communicated with the world through the language of drawing; first animals, then London buses, and finally buildings. These drawings show a masterful perspective, a whimsical line, and reveal a natural innate artistry.
To read more about Stephen and his life and how he harnessed his autism into his art read his biography on his website.
Companies employing people with autism
For a while now UK based companies have started to look at people with autism differently. For the first time realising the potential that someone with autism can have and the benefits they can bring to the company.