Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Every April 2 an internationally recognized event is held for World Autism Awareness Day when the United Nations reaffirms “its commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms”, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), autism spectrum disorder (ASD) affects more than 1 per cent of the world’s population.
This year, the World Autism Awareness Day event promoted the importance of integrating women and girls with autism and their representative organizations in policy and decision making.
What is ASD?
Autism spectrum disorder is a neurobiological condition of human development, perennial throughout life, in which symptoms begin to appear in the first three years of life. It affects the way an individual relates to his or her environment, making it difficult to interact and communicate with people. The disorder can lead to repetitive behaviors and marked sensory sensitivities, and shaking of the arms and hands.
Autism spectrum refers to the range and level of difficulties that a person with an autistic disorder can experience. Each case is different and some people lead normal lives while others have more difficulties – learning, for example – and require help from specialists.
ASD can affect any ethnic, racial or economic group, and although it is a lifelong disorder, there are treatments and services that diminish the effects of symptoms. Autism Speaks, an organization in the United States, sponsors research on autism and runs awareness-raising activities aimed at families, governments and the public.
Someone with ASD has two fundamental symptoms:
- Constant difficulty communicating and interacting.
- Repetitive behavior patterns.
Signs of autism in children include:
- At school or any institution where they can meet other children, they do not show any interest in interacting or playing with them.
- They do not establish eye contact. They do not recognise the speaker or smile to express social pleasure.
- Children with ASD avoid physical contact and show hypersensitivity when touching, smelling, tasting and listening. However, they may show little sensitivity to pain.
- They do not share their interests.
- They do not play in the same way as other children. They do not feed dolls, they do pretend to cook or drive cars as if it were something real.
- They react very little to calls of parents.
- They do not understand jokes or metaphors.
- If they develop intellectually, they can perceive that they are different from the rest of the children but do not understand why.
Difficulties understanding and expressing are not all associated with autism. Seventy per cent of children with autism have intellectual disabilities, can experience seizures, and epilepsy occurs more frequently than in children without autism. Because of increased secretions of hormones, the skull of an autistic person develops greater physical growth compared to with a normal skull.
Besides ASD signs there are other conditions associated with ASD. Patients often develop Tourette’s syndrome or have unusual tic disorders, epilepsy, dyspraxia, depression, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), bipolar disorder or sleep problems.
Autistic people process information more effectively than other person this is why more are being hired by tech companies. According to Michael Fitzgerald, a British psychiatrist at Trinity College in Dublin, prominent thinkers, scientists and musicians such as Isaac Newton, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Beethoven, Immanuel Kant and Albert Einstein suffered some degree of ASD.
ASD has no cure, but yet there is a big set of specialist treatments that point to improve interaction and communication skills on autist children, making a big change on educational and social development. It is quite difficult to know what the best treatment is, knowing the fact each autist person is affected in a different way. These treatments may require many hours of hard work and there must be firm commitments from families on practical, emotional and financial aspects to achieve good results.
In the National Autistic Society website is found information about a big range of strategies for treating ASD. All of them are focused on the most important qualities that a person needs to have a normal live, these are:
- Communication skills. Speech and language skills are often delayed, so using different methods like pictures, help to communicate.
- Social interaction skills. Making possible to acquire the ability of understanding feelings in other people.
- Imaginative play skills. Ways to encourage children to pretend playing any role kids game.
- Academic skills. Strategies to improve the way they progress on learning, such as reading, writings, maths.
It is very important to submit autism people since they are kids into treatment programs in order to help them to have the most normal live as possible.