This mysterious condition can be frightening, but with diligent effort public awareness of the disease has grown and now families everywhere have a support system for coping.
Here are 4 ways you can help bring awareness and get involved this Autism Awareness Month.
KNOW THE FACTS
This ‘spectrum disease’ is diagnosed through observations of multiple symptoms and their severity but is not limited to certain symptoms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report concluded that 1 in 68 births will appear on the spectrum in the U.S.
- Even if your child is not on the spectrum, you may know someone who is. Understanding autism can go along way when speaking to others and learning about the disease in general.
- More than 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder, this can include working adults as well as children.
- Prevalence of autism increase a staggering amount from 2000 (1 in 500) to 2010 (1 in 68)
- Boys are more likely to be diagnosed (1 in 54)
- There is no known cause for the disease, but researchers have investigated theories that link heredity and certain medical symptoms.
- Some people on the autism spectrum do not like to be touched.
- Being on the ‘spectrum’ refers to the certain behavioral and developmental challenges a person has as well as the severity of these. Autism is a spectrum disease which means there are varying degrees and each case is different.
- Autism is treatable and persons living with autism can use a range of therapies like canine companions, specific apps and music therapy to help them cope.
KNOW THE SYMPTOMS (according to AutismSpeaks.org)
Autism symptoms can be different for everyone but here are possible ‘red flag’ of autism in any age:
- avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone
- struggles understanding other people’s feelings
- has delayed language development
- performs repetitive behaviors
- sometimes gets upset by small changes in their environment
Autism symptoms in babies and toddlers vary and are tracked by age milestones. Look for these signs from the children in your life:
- around six months look for limited to no eye contact and no smiles
- around one year look for no signs of babbling, no use of gestures for communication, like pointing, and no response when called.
- at two years old symptoms like no use of words or two-word phrases can point to a developmental disability.
KNOW THE IMPORTANCE OF EARLY DETECTION
Autism speaks, The Autism Society and the National Autism Association all point to early detection as the best thing a parent can do.
An Autism screening is recommended at 18 month and 24 month ‘well-baby’ screenings, but you can request a screening at any time from a pediatrician.
Write down specific episodes from the child and use them as a timeline when speaking to your health care professional.
The symptoms listed are red flags and do not always result in an autism diagnosis. There are early intervention programs for children, free of charge, to address early developmental challenges and delays. Resources based in the Central Florida Area can be found here: https://www.autismspeaks.org/family-services/resource-guide
KNOW HOW TO HELP
Get involved this month! The Youth PALS (Providing Autism Links & Support) is a club in various high schools that looks to provide community awareness and fundraising.
- The Dr. Phillips Walk for Autism Festival presented by Youth PALS is April 14, 2018 at Dr. Phillips High School on Turkey Lake road go to www.eventbrite.com/dr-phillips-walk-for-autism-festival- for more information.
- Take the world autism month quiz to test your skills at https://www.autismspeaks.org/wam/quiz
- Discover and share stories of people living with autism at https://autismmosaic.org/ to increase awareness and acceptance.