Autism Awareness: Understanding This Condition

April is the designated month for Autism Awareness, with April 2nd being World Autism Awareness day.

People will be wearing blue and hosting events this month to spotlight autism, but the spotlight doesn’t turn off after April for people and families living with it every day.

“It’s important that as a community we learn to embrace the autism population and learn about them and how we can help them,” Board Certified Behavior Analyst at The STAR Center Mallory Garrett said. “And also how they can help us.”

Although the intention of spreading awareness of this health condition, is there, unfortunately, is very little awareness in the real sense. The battle to fight this health condition is going at a much slower pace than expected. Going by the statistics, 1 in every 68 children suffers from Autism. And while there are so many suffering from this condition, there are very few people who even understand this condition to the core.

What is autism?

Autism is a social communication disorder. It can be difficult to put into simple terms because it varies person to person (hence the autistic spectrum).

Essentially someone with autism will have difficulties with social skills and awareness, communication, and often need routines and have a lot of rigidity in what they do, or use a lot of repetition in their behavior.

They can lack Theory of Mind (realizing that other people think differently) and will also often be very sensory. Those with autism often exhibit a narrow range of interests and activities that are unique to each individual.

According to the World Health Organization around 1 in 160 children has an autism spectrum disorder. These disorders begin in childhood and persist into adulthood.

That means of the 7.2 billion people living on Earth, around 45 million have an autism spectrum disorder.

Autism is considered a spectrum because its intensity varies. The old adage is ‘if you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism’. Each autistic person has very different needs which makes the disorder difficult to classify.

Broadly speaking, those on the autism spectrum are commonly divided into high-functioning and low-functioning. The former group are usually able to live independently while the latter group often need life-long care.

A popular trope in fiction is autistic people having superior intellect to neurotypical counterparts. However, this is not always the case. Some people with autism do exhibit superior intelligence, but the opposite can also be true.

Men are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than women.

Autism is not considered an illness that needs to be treated. Most activists consider it a different wiring of the brain. However, in a neurotypical world, those with autism sometimes find behavioral therapy techniques helpful in managing their condition.

What causes autism?

As it stands, researchers have not discovered one single cause of autism spectrum disorders. Many variables including environmental and genetic factors can make it more likely for a child to be diagnosed with autism.

Research published in 1998 suggested vaccinating children causes autism. This became a well-publicized theory leading to a huge drop in the amount of parents vaccinating their children.

However, subsequent studies found there to be numerous flaws in this research’s methods. There is currently no evidence to suggest vaccinations have any impact on whether a child develops an autism spectrum disorder.

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