April~ Autism Awareness Month
Updated: Apr 7
WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 36 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently. Several factors may influence the development of autism, and it is often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, or sleep disorders, as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and attention issues.
WHAT ARE THE SIGN OF AUTISM?
It is extremely important that a parent or caregiver learn the early signs of autism and be familiar with the appropriate developmental milestones that their child should be reaching. The autism diagnosis age and intensity signs vary. Some infants show hints in their first months. In others, behaviors become obvious as late as age 2 or 3. Be sure to talk with your pediatrician about an evaluation if your infant or toddler exhibits any of the following: few or no big smiles; limited or no eye contact; little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions; little or no babbling; no reaching or pointing; little or no response to name; very few or no meaningful two-word phrases.
At any age, talk with your child’s pediatrician if any of these things are happening: loss of previously acquired speech, babbling, or social skills; avoidance of eye contact; persistent preference for solitude; difficulty understanding other people’s feelings; delayed language development; persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia); resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings; restricted interests; repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.); unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors.
OTHER INFORMATION via Autism Speaks, an advocacy organization advocating for policies and programs in support of individuals and families with autism.
Autism affects all ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
Minority groups tend to be diagnosed later and less often.
Early intervention affords the best opportunity to support healthy development and can improve learning, communication, and social skills,
and brain development.
There is no medical detection for autism.
Vaccines do not cause autism.
Our families need and deserve for us to be educated and informed so that we can all live our very best lives!