World Autism Awareness Day is observed every 2nd of April annually.This observance aims to increase the understanding and acceptance and to foster support for Autism from all around the globe.
To support this endeavor, we are sharing some basic facts about autism and some tips on how to cope if it affects any of your loved ones.
What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), or Autism for short, refers to a variety of conditions which are composed of challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences. There are numerous types of autism, each caused by different combinations of genetic, non-genetic and environmental influences. ASDs usually start in childhood and tend to persist up until adolescence and adulthood.
Globally, 1 out of 160 persons is said to be diagnosed with ASD. People with ASD are usually the ones who are affected by stigma, discrimination and human rights violations. They do not receive enough support and facilities needed for these conditions and not only that, families affected carry emotional and financial burdens as well.
What are the signs?
Symptoms of ASD varies, it usually starts during the first few months of a baby’s life but other symptoms may show 24 months or later.
Possible Signs of Autism in Babies and Toddlers
Possible Signs of Autism at Any Age
|By 6 months, no social smiles or other warm, joyful expressions directed at people||Avoids eye contact and prefers to be alone|
|By 6 months, limited or no eye contact||Struggles with understanding other people’s feelings|
|By 9 months, no sharing of vocal sounds, smiles or other nonverbal communication||Remains nonverbal or has delayed language development|
|By 12 months, no babbling||Repeats words or phrases over and over|
|By 12 months, no use of gestures to communicate||Gets upset by minor changes in routine or surroundings|
|By 12 months, no response to name when called||Has highly restricted interests|
|By 16 months, no words||Performs repetitive behaviors such as flapping, rocking or spinning|
|By 24 months, no meaningful, two-word phrases||Has unusual and often intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors|
|Any loss of any previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills|
How to cope?
It’s never easy to learn that your child or even your loved one has autism. Life will be very different since daily life with a person with special needs have different challenges. You will face a myriad of emotions such as confusion, rage, and grieve. You may feel these emotions from time to time but knowing how to deal with your emotions and needs will help in progressing forward. Here are some simple ways to help cope w/ the situation:
- Get Going – get started in giving your child the treatment program for their special needs.
- Ask for help – It’s okay to ask for help. Although, people around you may not know what kind of help they can do but simple things such as helping around the house, accompanying you in going out and such can help in lightening up the load.
- Talk to someone – Don’t bottle up all your emotions inside you, everyone needs someone who they can conform to. Letting it out and knowing someone is there to listen to you is a great way to gain strength.
- Try to take a break – allow yourself to take a break and do something that would help you relax: take a leisure walk, watch a movie, exercise, visit a spa, etc. Taking a break would help in making good and just decisions, handle stress properly, and have the patience with your loved one.
- Consider keeping a journal – writing is considered as one of the therapeutic ways to release some stress. Writing our deepest thoughts and feelings helps in improving the immune function as well as the physical and emotional health. It would also help in keeping track of your loved one’s progress.
Acknowledging the impact of Autism and taking care of yourself during this period would greatly prepare you for what might come ahead. Autism is a pervasive, multifaceted disorder. It will change the way you view your child as well as the way you view the world but never lose hope. Always let the love for your loved one prevail and stay strong, things will be in place at a right time.