Autism Awareness Week


This week on the 2nd of April was Autism Awareness Day.

Autism also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder is a lifelong developmental disability, which affects a person’s ability to communicate with others and how they experience the world.

It is estimated that Autism affects one in every hundred children in Australia, with boys being four times more likely to develop the condition than their female counterparts.

What exactly is Autism?

Autism varies greatly from person to person, with no two persons with Autism sharing the exact same characteristics and for this reason a definition is difficult to form.

People with Autism can range from highly successful college graduates to being unable to form simple sentences.

Signs of Autism are generally broken down into:

  • Difficulties with communications, both verbal and non verbal cues,

  • A tendance to engage in persistent or repetitive behaviours,

  • Extremely sensitive to sensory stimulus such as loud noise, extreme temperature, food textures

  • Difficulties socialising with others and often prefer their own company.

What to look for?

Early diagnosis and intervention can improve the life of those suffering from autism and their loved ones.

Unfortunately, symptoms are often missed, as family and friends often dismissing Autistic qualities as odd personality traits or idiosyncrasy.

Possible indicators include:

  • Looks away when you speak to him or her,

  • Doesn’t return your smile

  • Lack of interest in there peers and plays alone

  • Lack simple motor movements like clapping hands

  • Doesn’t respond to his or hear name by 12 months of age.

  • Lack of speak or unusual language patterns (repeats the same words multiple times)

  • Prefers to play alone and has little interest in social or make-believe play.

  • Dislikes strong sensory situations; such as loud music at a party or clapping and cheering of a crowd.

This is in no way an extensive list nor a diagnostic tool.

Each indicator alone can be seen in all children, instead this list was complied to open discussions and encourage people to talk with their GP or health care provider if they are concerned .

Cause

According to the National Autistic Society, the causes of Autism are still being investigated.

Research has shown that it is likely caused by a complex interaction between multiple genes and a person’s environment rather than one specific gene or environmental factor.

What we do know is that Autism is NOT a direct result of emotional deprivation or “bad” parenting.

Autism and Vaccinations

To this day the controversies surrounding vaccines and autism still exist and have had detrimental affects on population health.

However, a compressive review conducted in 2014, including data from 1.25 million children found NO link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) Vaccine and Autism.

This stance is supported by both the Autism Spectrum Australia and Australia Autism Alliance.

What we can do to help?

An early diagnosis opens the individual and their family up to a range from financial, medical and emotional support from both government and non-government organisations.

Specialised health providers can work with clients to achieve their goals; this could be starting a career and working with employers to provide a supportive work place or just reducing stress and creating a low arousal environment at home to improve quality of life of the client.

If you missed the 2nd of April, this whole month is Autism Awareness Month so spread the word and help reduce the stigma associated with this condition!