Awareness on Autism

Autism Awareness

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a lifelong, developmental disorder that includes impairments in social interactions and developmental language and communication skills, combined with rigid and repetitive behaviour.

World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated every year on the 2nd of April. It is a day about celebrating and recognizing the people on the autism spectrum. It highlights the need to help and improve the quality of life of those with autism so that they can lead a meaningful life. In 2007, the organization Autism Speaks created World Autism Day, and from 2nd April, 2008 all the countries around the world started celebrating World Autism Awareness Day. Every year there is a theme for World Autism Awareness Day and the theme for this year is “Assistive Technologies, Active Participation”, which will focus on leveraging the use of assistive technologies for persons with autism. Assistive technology can reduce or eliminate the barriers to their participation on an equal basis with others.

Individuals with autism have :

  • Difficulty in communication and interaction with other people
  • Restricted interests and repetitive behaviour
  • Symptoms that interfere with the individual’s ability to function in school, work, and other areas of life

Autism symptoms typically become clearly evident during early childhood i.e., from 12 to 24 months of age but the symptoms may also appear earlier or later. Children with Autism have symptoms throughout their lives but it is possible to get better as they grow older. People with ASD have difficulty in social communication and interaction and repetitive and restricted  behaviour. Following are a few symptoms that will reflect in the behaviour of the people suffering from Autism :

Social communication / Interaction behaviour:

  • Inconsistent or little eye contact
  • Tend to not look at people or listen to people
  • Difficulties in sharing emotions, interests and back and forth conversation
  • Difficulty in reading body language
  • Difficulty in developing and maintaining relationships

Restrictive / Repetitive behaviour :

  • Repeating certain behaviour or unusual behaviour, such as repeating a phrase or a word
  • Being upset with slight changes in routines
  • Being more or less sensitive to others to sensory input, such as light, noise, clothing or temperature
  • Having overly focused interests, such as with moving objects or parts of object

People with Autism have other challenges such as sleep problems Although they have a lot of challenges, people with autism have a lot of strengths as well, some of them are :

  1. Excelling in math, science, music and art
  2. Having strong visual and auditory learning capacity
  3. Being able to retain information for a long period of time  

The cause of ASD is unknown but there has been a lot of research that suggests that genes along with the environmental influences can affect the development that can lead to ASD.

Some risk factors include :

  1. Very low birth weight
  2. Being born to older parents
  3. Metabolic infections
  4. Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
  5. Genetic mutations

There is no cure for autism, but treatments and therapies can help alleviate their symptoms and make them feel better. Some treatments that are used are

  1. Behavioural therapy
  2. Speech therapy
  3. Occupational therapy
  4. Physical therapy
  5. Play therapy

Massages, weighted blankets, clothing and medication techniques may also help in inducing relaxing effects. Therefore, the response of an individual to a treatment may vary.

So, on this World Autism Awareness Day let us celebrate and recognize the people on the autism spectrum and provide them with as much support and help that is possible. Let us all show our support by wearing light blue, and celebrate every unique talent of an autistic individual and spread social awareness among the mass.

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