Tag Archives: autism awareness

Luis Suarez is not Autistic

Luis Suarez, an accomplished footballer who plays for Liverpool in the UK’s Premier League and for Uruguay’s National team is in the middle of yet another media storm because of his actions yesterday. In Uruguay’s World Cup match against Italy yesterday, Suarez bit Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini  in the shoulder. Suarez has a terrible history of biting players during a football match. Today, the Mail Online reported that Suarez has been charged  by FIFA for biting an opponent and could potentially be slapped with a two-year ban.

As if this story isn’t disturbing enough, I have found that my blog has been viewed hundreds of times yesterday when people entered the search terms, ‘Luis Suarez Autistic’. I find it offensive that some people would quickly assume that someone who displays inappropriate behaviours that Suarez did, is autistic.

Why would they? Is it because they have encountered someone with Autism who has the tendency to bite when they are angry? Yes, some people with Autism may have that tendency, but not everyone with Autism does so.

Is it because Suarez has been doing this exact same thing and he seems not to have learned? That’s not a sign of Autism.

Is it because he is unable to control his emotions whilst also not understanding social norms? Those may be signs of Autism but one needs to look at the whole picture and observe individuals in different contexts to see whether the behaviour and understanding are constant.

Even though I am extremely offended, I understand that I may be over-reacting. I am here to educate and not moan. A diagnosis of Autism requires a lot of tests, conversations and observations. Observing someone on a football field is not enough to warrant a diagnosis. Also, inappropriate behaviours are caused by a lot of factors, which makes it impossible to pin it down to a specific condition.

I hope this clears things up somehow.



How Cognitive Theories Can Help Us Understand Autism- Uta Frith

Never Underestimate the Power of Silence





Young people are expected to be attentive for at least five hours of every weekday in school. Not doing so would warrant punishment- either a gentle “shhhh” or a trip to the headteacher’s office. More importantly, not paying attention could lead students to missing important information in their lessons. Twenty five hours of listening to teachers, teaching assistants and classmates is a lot of work for any child, let alone those with Special Educational Needs, particularly those with Autism.

Most people with Autism are highly sensitive to external stimuli- whether it be visual, auditory, tactile or a combination of these. Most of them experience what is called ‘sensory overload’, just by sitting in their chairs listening to their teachers. Along with their teachers’ voice, they hear (amongst other things) pencils tapping, the wind blowing, the radiator’s vibrating noise, and even their seat-mate’s breathing all in the same amplified volume. In addition, they may be irritated by the smell of the carpets/ floor, the colourful displays in the classroom and possibly by the tags on their uniforms.

Now put yourself in their position. Will you be able to cope for 5 hours a day, 25 hours a week?

This is reason why pupils with Autism need to be given some (or a lot of) quiet time at school. After completing a demanding task, allow the students to de-stress, even for just 3 minutes. If your school does not have a quiet room, let your student(s) do something that they really enjoy. For instance, build lego, colour, complete jigsaw puzzles, or whatever activity that you think they can just ‘zone-out’.

Also, there may be some days where your students have had so much to deal with at home, that they refuse to do anything in school. Again, give them some space. Give them some quiet time. However, it is important to note that some children may associate grumpiness in the morning for happy quiet time. It goes without saying that quiet times should not be given willy-nilly. It is also important to communicate with the children’s parents so that you know what happened at home and whether they needed some quiet time or not.

When they get home, do not force them to do their homeworks straight away. Again, allow them some quiet time even for just a few minutes. They have been trying to tune out so much stimuli in school, and the last thing that most of them would want is to do their homework. I understand of course, that there are a lot of students who have gotten into the routine of doing homeworks straight after school- which is great. If your children enjoys doing their homework straight after school, do not change their routine. My advice only applies if your child exhibits problem behaviour when asked to do homeworks straight away.



Dr. Mad Science: From Non-Verbal to Youtube Phenomenon



Jordan Hilkowitz is an 11-year old boy who has Autism. He was non-verbal until he was 5, and had very little language until fairly recently. His initial inability to speak, however, did not hinder his fondness to science. He carried out simple experiements in his house, under  the watchful eye of his long-time babysitter named Tracy Leparulo. Tracy spent countless hours looking up experiments that she and Jordan could do at home.

Last year, they both decided to film their experiments and post them on Youtube (see Michael’s Channel). This channel gives Jordan a platform to show people what he is capable of and he does this enthusiastically. Every video shows his excitement and passion for what he is doing. At the time of writing, he has uploaded 23 videos and his channel has received over 4 million views. This, and the positive comments from the people who viewed his experiments show just how beneficial social media can be. In addition (and perhaps more importantly), Tracy’s encouragement has significantly been one of the major turning points in Jordan’s life. Had it not been for Tracy’s encouragement and patience over these years, Jordan may not have developed language skills and may have not be able to show us how talented he is.

Here are some of my favourite experiments in Jordan’s channel:


Asperger’s Syndrome and Anxiety

In my quest to improve people’s awareness of Autism, I’m posting a video I found of Katie Stanbridge, a young person with Asperger’s Syndrome, explaining her anxieties- the reasons, the actual experiences and the results of these experiences. I feel that this topic can be better understood if explained by those who actually experience it:


For more, check out Katie Stanbridge’s youtube channel HERE