April is National Autism Awareness Month
Idaho Press-Tribune - 4/22/2017
Autism is identified as a neurodevelopmental disorder, a mental disorder, and an impairment of the growth and development of the brain. It’s often noticed by patents early in a child’s life. It usually limits the baby’s social interaction, along with limits or absence of verbal and non-verbal communication. It also often represents with continual repetitive behavior. As children are diagnosed they are classified along the “Autism Spectrum,” a range of skills based on their levels of disability and abilities to function.
As more is learned about this condition, doctors find that some individuals can function well with their activities of daily living (High functioning) such as dressing, eating, and playing. Others, however, often need a great deal of support, supervision and assistance in accomplishing even the most fundamental tasks. Many children can learn to do the basic functions but still need complete supervision throughout the day.
While boys are more apt to have Autism, it is seen in every race and ethnic group as well as across all socio-economic levels. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), it is estimated that 1 out of every 68 children is afflicted with some form of Autism.
Even as infants, children with ASD may seem different, especially when compared to other children their own age. They may become overly focused on certain objects, rarely make eye contact, and fail to engage in typical babbling with their parents. In other cases, children may develop normally until the second or even third year of life, but then start to withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement. It is often recognized prior to attending school, depending on how much interaction a child has with other children. According to the National Institute of Health, the severity of the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) “can vary greatly and is based on the degree to which social communication, insistence of sameness of activities and surroundings, and repetitive patterns of behavior affect the daily functioning of the individual.”
Some symptoms of Autism include but are not limited to: failure to respond to their names, avoiding eye contact with others, and interacting with others to only achieve a very specific goal. There is often difficulty understanding how to play with other children, preferring to play alone. Many children with Autism are identified due to their repetitive movements or unusual behaviors such as flapping their arms, rocking from side to side, or twirling. They may become preoccupied with a particular part of their favorite toy. Children may also become obsessive about a particular subject, memorizing every detail about it. This condition continues into adulthood.
For more information about Autism and the Autism Spectrum Disorder visit www.autism.org or www.nih.gov.