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Learn About Autism: Autism Awareness Day
Every year, April 2nd is recognized as Autism Awareness Day. Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a developmental disorder that affects how people communicate and socially interact with those around them.
It is estimated by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that 1 in 54 children will be diagnosed with autism. Although anyone can be diagnosed with Autism, it is 4 times more common in males than females.1
Autism is a spectrum, meaning that it affects those who have it differently and there are different types. No two individuals with autism will have the same experience, and their talents and abilities will vary on the severity.
However, if you think your loved one may have autism, knowing the signs can help you get the right care that they need. While there is no cure for autism, many people that are diagnosed with it are able to overcome their social and mental challenges and live fulfilling lives.
Here are the facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder and what you can do to help those who have it.
Signs of Autism
While there are many variations of autism, there are currently no medical tests to determine if someone has it.
Diagnosing someone with autism is based on their behavior and speech patterns, although not everyone will experience all of the symptoms.
ASD symptoms can vary, with some individuals being high-functioning while others may struggle socially or have trouble learning.
Professionals can begin diagnosing autism at 18 months; however, these tests are usually more reliable when the child is at least 2 years old.2
The earlier that a child with autism is diagnosed, the more that they can be helped as they grow and develop. Keeping track of a child’s developmental milestones ensures that they can get the care they need if you suspect that they have autism.
Some of the most common signs of autism include:3
- Repetitive behavior, such as hand flapping/rocking
- Having a narrow range of objects/interests
- Avoiding eye contact
- Strong reactions to the five senses: touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight
- Being upset over small changes
- Functioning on a routine
- Difficulty with connecting and understanding emotions
- Delayed speech
What Causes Autism?
Autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, and it is not caused by one thing.
Genetically, if someone in the family has autism, then it is very likely that they will pass on the genes that cause it. Even if a parent does not have autism themselves, they can still pass it down to their children.4
Research also shows that there are certain genetic patterns that contribute to autism; for example, Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome are both linked to autism.5
Furthermore, a child’s risk of being born with autism increases with:4
- Older parents
- Birth complications (being premature or having low birth weight)
- Being a multiple (twins, triplets, etc.)
- Pregnancy that is spaced less than a year apart
Environmental factors also play a role in whether or not someone may develop autism. Some of these include:6
- Pollution: A study found that mothers who live in a highly polluted area while they were in the third trimester of pregnancy were twice as likely to have a child with ASD.
- Pesticides, metals, and other harmful substances: Early and prenatal exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, mercury, and other contaminants can affect a child’s brain development and cause autism.
- Poor Nutrition: Mothers who do not take prenatal vitamins three months before and the first month of pregnancy are less likely to birth a child with autism.
One common myth is that vaccines cause autism, however, there is no scientific basis that currently supports these claims. There are no links between certain ingredients in vaccines causing Autism Spectrum Disorder.7
Treatments for Autism
While there is no cure for those who have autism, there are many different types of treatments available to help those who have it.
A combination of therapy (behavioral, physical, and sensory integration) as well as behavior analysis can help those with autism build their social skills and be successful in life.8
Here are some of the most common treatments for autism, and how they help those who have it.
Applied Behavior Analysis
Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA Therapy) is a type of therapy dedicated to helping people with ASD learn proper social behaviors. The goal of Applied Behavior Analysis is to help improve communication skills, social behavior, reading skills, focus, and memory.9
ABA therapy helps those with autism improve their social skills over time by setting milestones. Once those are met, then the therapist will measure the improvement in each category over time.
Assistive technology are electronic devices that were created to help people with specific challenges. Individuals with autism can use assistive technology to help overcome mental and social difficulties.10
Assistive technology can help people with reading, math, listening comprehension, and more. People with autism can use assistive technology to live productive lives.
While there is no medication that can cure autism, there are medications to help people who struggle with ASD by improving their functioning.
Medications can help people with autism improve their energy levels, focus, and behavior.11
The CDC recommends that you speak with a doctor before putting a child on medication for ASD. Not all medications affect children the same way.
How you can help those with Autism
Are you looking for ways that you can support your friend or loved ones who have autism? Here are some ways that you can help people with autism!
One way that you can support those who have autism is by volunteering for causes that help them.
There are many different Facebook groups and organizations that are dedicated to reaching out to those who have autism in your local community.
Here are a few organizations with volunteer programs:
- The Autism Project. The Autism Project offers volunteer projects aimed at high school and college students looking for ways to get involved. Some of their programs include internships, camping opportunities, mentoring, and events that are dedicated to helping those with ASD.
- Autism Speaks. Autism Speaks offers many different events, some of them virtual, to help those in need. There are different chapters available in different areas of the country that you can connect to.
- The Autism Science Foundation. The Autism Science Foundation is an organization that allows you to host and attend events. Some of their events include Scoring Goals For Autism, which is a soccer event held in Pennsylvania, and Recipe4Hope, which involves cooking meals.
If you are willing and able to, donating to an organization that helps those with autism can make a difference. Your donation can help families that want to get their children or loved one get the treatment that they need to be successful.
Donating to organizations that advocate for those with autism can help people with ASD receive the care and resources that they need.
Consider donating to help someone with autism today!
Another way that you can help those with autism is by spreading awareness. Share articles online, join advocacy groups, and start the conversation to educate others about autism.
Other ways that you can spread awareness is by participating in events and inviting those you know to join in. The more people that understand autism, the more we can help those who have it.
Include People with ASD
Another way that you can help someone with autism is by including them in your life. Individuals with autism want to have friends and be part of the group just like everyone else.
Talk to someone with autism and try to get to know them better, and help them with their challenges. You might be surprised that you have more things in common than you initially thought!
Spread Awareness About Autism Today
Here at Saber Healthcare, we encourage diversity and learning to understand one another, no matter our differences. Because it is Autism Awareness Day, spread awareness about autism and how people can learn to be more inclusive towards those who have it.
To learn more about Autism, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Website.
Saber Healthcare is an organization dedicated to providing consultant services to long term care providers. This article is for informational purposes and is not meant to be seen as professional advice. Please consult with a medical expert before relying on the information provided.
- “Data & Statistics on Autism Spectrum Disorder.” U.S. Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Updated September 25th, 2020. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
- “What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?” U.S. Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Updated March 25th, 2020. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
- “Signs of Autism.” ADA Health, ada.com. Last Updated February 26th, 2020. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://ada.com/signs-of-autism/
- “What Causes Autism?” Autism Speaks, org. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-causes-autism
- “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, org. Published January 6th, 2018. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/autism-spectrum-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20352928
- “Autism.” National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, niehs.gov. Last Updated March 30th, 2021. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-causes-autism
- “Autism and Vaccines.” U.S. Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last updated August 25th, 2020. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/vaccinesafety/concerns/autism.html
- “Treatment and Intervention Services for Autism Spectrum Disorder.” U.S. Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last updated September 23rd, 2019. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html
- “Applied Behavior Analysis.” Autism Speaks, org. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.autismspeaks.org/applied-behavior-analysis-aba-autism-treatment
- “Assistive technology for learning: What you need to know.” Understood for All, org. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/assistive-technology/assistive-technologies-basics/assistive-technology-what-it-is-and-how-it-works
- “Treatment and Intervention Services for Autism Spectrum Disorder.” U.S. Department of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last Updated September 23rd, 2019. Accessed March 31st, 2021. Link: https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/treatment.html#:~:text=There%20are%20many%20types%20of,the%20use%20of%20assistive%20technology.