April is National Autism Awareness Month
Join The Celebrity Cafe in spreading awareness, acceptance and appreciation.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder, commonly known as autism, is a condition defined by a range of conditions that affect social skills, repetitive behaviors, communication and mental strengths and/or differences. There is not one single type but a wide range of symptoms caused by environmental and genetic causes, thus the spectrum.
Anyone on the Autism spectrum can have symptoms that range from severe to moderate. Some may have only social challenges while others can face tougher situations and be unable to live by themselves and must have constant care.
Asperger's syndrome is one of the types of Autism to fall on the spectrum. This is commonly referred to as autistic savant because people with Asperger's have heightened intellectual ability with milder symptoms.
Another disorder on the spectrum is known as Pervasive Development Disorder. This is where it can't be fully described as autism and features milder symptoms of social and communication problems.
Who has Autism?
Autism can affect anyone, but it is four times more likely to appear in boys. Signs first appear normally between the ages of two and three. Current estimates find that autism affects 1 in 68 people in the United States and can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status.
What are some signs of autism?
Some common signs of people with autism are avoidance of eye contact, trouble with feelings an sympathy, delayed speech/language learning, repetitive phrases/words, aversion to change, obsessive tendencies and physical tendencies like flapping hands or moving head.
Not all people with autism show the same signs and it is all on a case to case basis.
Some of the early signs before diagnosis include not responding to their name, not pointing at objects they show interest in and not playing pretend games.
What happens after a child is diagnosed with autism?
After a child is diagnosed with autism, then a visit to a developmental pediatrician, neurologist and/or psychologist, parents tend to experience stages of grief. But, there is a whole community of people dealing with autism, so it's recommended that parents and families reach out to others for their experiences and to take care of themselves.
For anyone diagnosed with autism, the best thing to do is Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA). ABA focuses on specific behaviors that are meaningful to each person. The individualized approach allows medical professionals and parents to track growth and reduce problem behaviors.
What are stigmas surrounding Autism?
Around the globe, families and people affected by autism face isolation and shame daily. People with autism normally do not get physical abnormalities with the disorder, so people mistakenly view disruptive behaviors as bad parenting or mental illness. This is followed by disapproving stares that lead families to seek isolation from others who do not understand. This deters people from fully participating in their communities and enjoying their lives.
What can you do to fully accept and include people affected by Autism?
There are many ways to get involved beyond becoming aware of Autism Spectrum Disorder. You can go to events sponsored by communities and National organizations like Autism Speaks. Or you can sign up for newsletters to hear more about the disorder and listen to people's stories. Or you can donate to Autism Speaks and help with the ongoing research to learn more about the disorder and a possible cure.