Autism Spectrum Disorders
Published On January 30, 2023 » 494 Views» By Times Reporter » Features
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IN today’s article, we will be looking at a developmental disability that may be caused by differences in the brain.
The behavioural symptoms of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) often appear early in a child’s developmental stage, which may be from 12 to 18 months or even earlier.
A 2021 research by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) indicated that at least one in 44 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder.
According to their 2018 data, boys are four times likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
Although the numbers and chances of a child developing autism are very low, it is important to raise awareness for those who have this disorder so that we can understand how we can relate with them in our communities as well as care for them.
People with autism spectrum disorders may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from other people.
There is nothing about how they look that may set them apart from other people.
The abilities of people with ASD can vary insignificantly.
For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversational skills whereas others maybe non-verbal.
Some people with ASD may need a lot of help in their daily lives while others can work and live with little to no support.
ASD may develop from 12 months to 18 months and can last throughout a person’s life although symptoms may improve over time.
Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life whilst in others they may not show up until 24 months of age or later.
As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviours are expected in school or in a workplace. They may come to the attention of health care providers because they may also have conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactive disorder, which occur more often in people with ASD than in people without ASD.
People with autism spectrum disorder often have problems with social interaction, communication, restrictive or repetitive behaviours interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. These characteristics can make life very challenging.
The diagnosis of ASD can be difficult since there are no medical tests, e.g. like carrying out a blood test to check for different diseases like malaria, to diagnose it. The diagnosis is highly dependent on a doctor’s observations of the child’s behaviour and development. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered reliable. However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until they are much older. Some people are not diagnosed until they are adolescents or adults. This delay means that people with ASD might not get the early help they need.
Current treatments for ASD seek to reduce symptoms that interfere with daily functioning and quality of life. ASD affects each person differently, meaning that people with ASD have unique strengths and challenges and different treatment needs. Treatment plans usually involve multiple professionals and are catered to the individual.
There isn’t just one cause of ASD, there are many different factors that have been identified by professionals, that may make a child more likely to have ASD, including environmental, biologic, and genetic factors.
Although we know little about specific causes , the available evidence suggests that the following my put children at greater risk for developing ASD; such as having a sibling with ASD, having certain genetic or chromosomal conditions , such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis ( which is a rare , multi-system genetic disease that causes non-cancerous tumours to grow in the brain and on other vital organs such as the kidneys , heart , eyes , lungs, and skin), experiencing complications at birth, being born to older parents.
Greater awareness will bring about better understanding on what autism really is and how we can work together as a community to make sure that we create a friendly environment for people living with autism and their families and loved ones.
Once public awareness is strong, individuals will be better informed on symptoms, earliest age of diagnosis, interventions or therapies that will be useful, etc.
Members of the public can do their part to share and advocate.
For example, if an employee is able to influence his colleagues and eventually advise his boss on hiring individuals with autism, he would increase their chances of being considered for employment.
With greater advocacy amongst the public, we hope that it will lead to acceptance. After all, we are all different in our own ways. Some people might argue that a single individual may not be able to do much alone, that’s true too, but there is strength in numbers. For example, if an organisation is able to ensure public access to reliable information regarding autism and set an example by hiring or providing services for them, who knows what impact or influence it might have on other organisations?
The author is a mental health activist and founder of the Mental Health Awareness and Aid, an organisation that fights stigma attached to mental health. For more comments, call the author on 0974 363421

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