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Being Autistic: The Way Forward

Is autism awareness a means to a much larger end? What is it that the autistic community needs to be able to lead fulfilling lives? Aditi, an autistic self-advocate, shares her thoughts on these crucial questions and more.

a megaphone being held up

Are We Autism Aware?

April is marked as the Autism Awareness Month the world over. The autistic in me sat down to ponder about the relevance of this observance in the context of the current environment the world over.

It would not be wrong to say that the awareness about autism is at an all time high. Many people know that it is a neurodevelopment disorder. Services to screen and diagnose, not just young children but even adults who have fallen through the diagnosis cracks in their childhood, is also relatively easier to access. The increasing numbers of autistics, I believe, do not point to an increased incidence. It is, rather, a result of increased awareness which entails more people seeking a diagnosis.

It would be safe to conclude that we are very aware of autism. So what is next?

Autism Accommodations

As a society, how successful are we in providing appropriate opportunities for education and work to autistic folks? Can we assure a meaningful and fulfilling adulthood for our autistic citizens? When looked at it this way, we will realize that we have taken mere baby steps in this direction. Plus, this is not an easy task to accomplish.

The reasons for this are many. But the biggest one of them all is probably the sensory differences that we autistics have and how these impact the way we learn, work and live. Accommodations are the way forward, but how would you know what to accommodate unless the autistic person can express what they need help with? This is where having an appropriate mode of communication can be a game changer. 

Challenging Behaviours in Autistic Individuals

In this context, let’s talk about “challenging behaviours”. These are behaviours that can impact a person’s ability to learn, work, and live a fulfilling life. Have you ever wondered why the incidence of “challenging behaviours”, is much higher in those of us who have the inability to communicate verbally? It surely is no co-incidence that those of us who have access to reliable modes of alternative communication are able to ask for accommodations, learn better, and have a better shot at a productive adulthood.

I believe that a change for the better gets greater momentum when all stakeholders work towards challenging the status quo. That includes us autistics working towards overcoming some of our challenges. I would like to add a personal anecdote in this context.

Overcoming My Social Anxiety

Anxiety, especially social anxiety, has been a part of my being since I can remember. There are situations when it becomes intense to the point of it becoming so debilitating that I try to avoid social interactions with people who I don’t quite know. But my role as an autistic self-advocate  and an author of fiction entails that I interact with people.

To work through this, I decided to seek professional help. I am currently taking Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) to help manage some of my anxieties. As with most psychotherapies, these are ‘talk therapies’.

Put simply, we talk about the thoughts that trigger anxiety in certain situations. We break those thoughts down to understand how realistic or valid they are. By doing so, we identify unhelpful thought patterns and work on changing them to achieve personal growth.

Communication is Life-Changing

As you can see, the ability to ‘talk’, to communicate your thoughts is the key here. And that is something I am able to do in spite of being a non-speaker. This is because I ‘talk’ by typing on Avaz. I like to believe that I have made good progress in managing debilitating anxiety. It would not have been possible without a reliable mode of communication. Without it, whatever I did would be tantamount to mere ‘problem behaviour’

The end goal of any observance is to herald a positive change . The first step to creating education and work opportunities for us autistic is to help us find our voice. This will make us equal partners in the process of driving this change.

Avaz Megaphone is a platform for neurodivergent individuals to express themselves through the written word. We accept opinion pieces, short stories and poetry. Authors of accepted works will receive an honorarium. To make a submission please email us on: 


Aditi Sowmyanarayan

Student & Writer

Aditi Sowmyanarayan is an eighteen year old who uses Avaz, a text to speech app, to communicate. She goes to Ishanya India Foundation, a special school in Bengaluru. Aditi is an avid blogger and an aspiring writer. She blogs on

She can be reached on Instagram at writeaditi and on her Facebook page : small step big thought

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