In honor of Autism Awareness Month, this blog aims to educate and spread awareness about our friends on the spectrum. We also encourage you to read “What I’ve Learned From Working with Autistic Children” by NAPA pediatric therapist, Allyson Bates, OTD, OTR/L. SWC, PAM.
Various campaigns such as Autism Speaks “Light it Up Blue” and the Autism Society’s “Put on a Puzzle” aim to increase inclusivity and acceptance of individuals with autism. World Autism Awareness Month is a platform to create change; a stage to support a shift in thinking to create acceptance and inclusivity. Every individual with autism is a unique being with their own strengths and challenges. Let’s take this time to learn more about autism so that we are open, willing, and able to communicate strategies to make our communities more welcoming for everyone.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills and communications skills, as well as engagement in repetitive behaviors. Autism and ASD are general terms for a wide range of brain development disorders characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. While statistics vary slightly, approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States is affected with autism. The cause of autism is yet unknown, however researchers believe both environmental and genetic factors may contribute to an individual being diagnosed with ASD. Symptoms of autism may include, but is not limited to:
Experts agree, access to early intervention is imperative for individuals with ASD. Early intervention may include but is not limited to one or a combination of the following interventions:
ASD is almost 5 times more prevalent in boys with about 1 in 42 boys diagnosed compared to about 1 in 189 girls.
Wondering if your child is affected by ASD? Here is a list of red flags that may indicate that your child is at risk:
– No big smiles or other warm, happy expressions by 6 months or thereafter
– No back-and-forth sharing of sounds or facial expressions by 9 months
– No babbling by 12 months
– No back-and-forth gestures like waving, pointing, etc. by 12 months
– No words by 16 months
– No meaningful, 2-word phrases (not including repeating) by 24 months
– Any loss of speech, babbling, or social skills at any age
Here are easy to read infographics describing the basic facts about Autism and ASD: