From Autism to Action
Described as a developmental disorder, Autism affects the way people interact and communicate with others, also being characterized by repetitive behavior. Signs usually show up during the first 3 years of a child’s life and they develop gradually. Besides affecting social interaction, people with ASD (Autism spectrum disorder) also have sensory issues, such as being sensitive to smells, sounds, or touch.
ASD presents itself differently in every single person. In the past, ASD has been divided into 3 diagnoses – autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, and also pervasive development disorder. Nowadays there is a single diagnosis given: ASD, which has three levels of severity. In some cases, symptoms can be subtle (especially for the first level), and ASD might not become obvious until an individual begins schools or even moves into adulthood. Given the fact that ASD presents itself differently, some people that are on the spectrum are able to live independently while other require support.
In order to spread be aware of what ASD is, learning about the subject is very important. Whether from reliable sources or from people who have experience with the condition, knowing what ASD is, how it presents itself, and how it is diagnosed plays a big role in spreading awareness. As of now, there is no known cure, but behavioral interventions or speech therapy done early can help children improve their social skills.
It’s important to be aware that the disorder should be treated with respect. In recent times, an autistic culture has developed, and while some individuals seek a cure, others see it as something that should simply be accepted as a difference, instead of being considered a disorder. Learning about the subject also plays an important role in not spreading misconceptions and understanding when people are misinformed. There are certain myths surrounding ASD that should be understood in order for them not to get perpetuated.
Attending events can be a great way to spread the word. Whether we’re talking about conferences, meetups, or fundraisers, they can be a good way to spread the word, and not only learn about the disorder itself but how to offer support to others who might be affected by it in various forms. The second day of April every year is recognized internationally as World Autism Awareness Day – since 2008 – and is a good way for non-governmental organizations and private companies to create initiatives regarding the subject.
Getting to know people who are on the spectrum can also lead to increased awareness. This could help squander the myths about ASD and will help deepen the understanding of what the disorder actually is. While studying the subject is important, having first-hand experience will have a much bigger impact. Interacting with people on the spectrum will offer some unique insight into how strong people with ASD can be.