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Know Your Normal: The experiences of young autistic people

07 June 2018

Know Your Normal: Know Your Normal (#knowyournormal) is a new report on mental health in autism.

The aim of the research was to find out about the mental health experiences of young autistic people (16-25 years) across England and to make recommendations on how best to meet their needs.

Around 70-80% of children and adults on the autism spectrum have experienced mental health problems.

Autistic people, their families, and the people who work with them are highlighting mental health as a priority area for research, but despite efforts to address this gap in knowledge, little work has explored the mental health needs of young autistic people.

About the report

Working with a team of young autistic people from the charity Ambitious about Autism, CRAE asked 130 young autistic people about their mental health needs, and their experiences of seeking mental health support. Shockingly, the results highlighted how 80% of the young people had experienced mental health problems.  Not only that, these young people told us how they generally felt unhappy, depressed, worthless, under strain, unable to overcome their difficulties and lacking in confidence. Many young people felt that these problems stemmed from the pressure to act ‘normal’ in a neurotypical world.

The report goes on to outline three key points young autistic people believe will make the biggest difference to their experience of mental health:

  1. They must have support identifying and communicating how they feel.
  2. To reduce stigma and increase the knowledge around mental health and autism.
  3. They must be able to find and access suitable support when they need it.

Supporting resources

To support these changes, the Youth Patrons have created a number of resources including a toolkit, a stigma-busting animation and training for education, social care and health professionals.

They hope these freely available resources will help everyone; autistic and non-autistic people and those working with young autistic people, feel more confident intervening early.