You may have come across kids who behave a little differently than others. This may not necessarily mean that they’re not at par with others, just that they function or behave differently.
Let’s know more about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
What is autism?
Autism Spectrum Disorder affects communication and behaviour. It can be diagnosed at any age but it is said to be a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life.
A child with autism may have repetitive behaviors like hand-flapping, rocking or jumping, constant moving or pacing, hyper behaviour, fixations on certain activities or objects, specific routine or rituals or extreme sensitivity to light or touch. All of these behaviours hamper the child’s social development and interaction.
How common is autism around us? What are its causes and reasons?
Globally, autism is estimated to affect 24.8 million people and it occurs 4-5 times more often in males than in females. Autism is a complex disorder whose core aspects have distinct causes that can often co-occur. Exposure to air pollution during pregnancy, especially heavy metals and particulates, may increase the risk of autism. Environmental factors that have been claimed without evidence to contribute to or exacerbate autism. Even certain foods, infectious diseases, solvents, PCBs, phthalates and phenols used in plastic products, pesticides, brominated flame retardants, alcohol, smoking, illicit drugs, vaccines, and prenatal stress are leading causes. Some, such as the MMR vaccine, have been completely disproven.
What is it important to celebrate 2nd April as World Autism Day?
The United Nations every year on 2nd April recognises the day as World Autism Awareness Day. It vows to take measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder. World Autism Day is one of only seven official health-specific UN Days. The day itself brings individual autism organisations together all around the world to aid in things like research, diagnoses, treatment, and acceptance for those with a developmental path affected by autism. The UN Secretary General delivers the message to member states and all other UN Organisations.
The recognition of the day has had some great outcomes as well. In 2015, President Obama highlighted some of the initiatives that the US government was taking to bring rights to those with autism and to bring awareness to the disorder. He highlighted things like The Affordable Care Act, which prohibits health insurance companies from denying coverage based on a pre-existing condition such as autism. He also pointed out the recent Autism CARES Act of 2014, which provides higher level training for those who are serving citizens on the autism spectrum.
On the lighter side, in 2014 World Autism Day coincided with Onesie Wednesday a day created by the National Autistic Society to encourage people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland to show their support for anyone on the autistic spectrum. By wearing a onesie or pajamas, participants say, “it’s all right to be different.”
Sensitise the people around you! Be a little more understanding and kind towards people with autism.
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