World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day

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Highlights:
  • World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2nd every year
  • The theme for this year 2018 is "Empowering Women and Girls with Autism"
  • Creating awareness about autism can help the general public better understand and integrate autistic people into society.
World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2nd every year. This year marks the eleventh annual awareness day with the theme "Empowering Women and Girls with Autism."
World Autism Awareness Day

A resolution has been adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in November 2017, drawing attention to the specific challenges faced by women and girls with disabilities face and involves them in the policy and decision making to address the challenges faced with autism.

Girls with disabilities are denied access to school education and may not even complete their primary school. Women with disabilities were found to have a lower rate of employment when compared with men with disabilities.

"On World Autism Awareness Day let us reaffirm our commitment to promote the full participation of all people with autism, and ensure they have the necessary support to be able to exercise their rights and fundamental freedoms," said Secretary-General António Guterres of the United Nations (UN).

Importance of Autism Awareness Day

Autism can limit an individual's ability to participate in the society, which means that they might struggle to find a job, a meaningful social life, and education, according to a research conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Families of those with autism spectrum disorder (ASD)can suffer emotionally and financially, as the health care costs could be expensive. However, helping the caregivers emotionally and financially can make the world a better place for people with ASD.

Dr. Gitanjali Natarajan, Ph.D, is Head, Department of Clinical Psychology, Amrita Institute of Medical Sciences, Kochi said, "The concerns associated with stigma often prevent parent from getting the assessment done. These problems call for greater awareness and accessibility for specialized services. There is also a need for increased sensitivity among primary health care providers to detect developmentally challenged children and refer them to the specialized services. Number of specialists and institutions that are equipped to manage autism are very few in India. Parents often find themselves directionless and frustrated when trying to access good treatment and after care for their child with autism".

Globally, there is a severe shortage of services and support systems. Therefore, creating awareness about autism can help educate the general public that can reduce stigma and discrimination, and integrate autistic people into society.

What is Autism?

Autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder affects the normal function of the brain. It begins in early childhood, i.e., it appears before two years of age making it difficult for the individual to communicate and interact with others.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. However, early diagnoses and treatment can help improve the condition of the autistic child.

Facts and Statistics on Autism

  • Worldwide, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) occurs in 1 in 160 children
  • About 1 in 68 children in the US are affected by ASD
  • Boys are four times more likely to develop autism than girls
  • Nearly 40 percent of children with autism do not speak
  • Around 30-50 percent of autism children have seizures.

Famous People with Autism

Autism has affected a large number of people. There are many celebrities and famous people who had autism and yet made their mark in this world. Some famous people who have had or living with autism include Albert Einstein, Michelangelo, Amadeus Mozart, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Sir Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, Tim Burton and Steven Spielberg.

Causes of Autism

The exact cause of autism is still unknown. However, it involves a complex and variable combination of genetic risks and environmental factors. Genes play a key role in the development of autism. In families, there appears to be a pattern of autism. If one child has autism, there is about a five percent chance of another child developing autism in the family.

Symptoms of Autism

The hallmark of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are problems with social communication and interaction. The signs of ASD include:

Diagnosis of Autism

Diagnosis plays a major role in the life of autistic children; early diagnosis can help  improve the condition of the child and integrating them into the general society  remains higher. However, only 50 percent of them are diagnosed on time.

Children with autism are evaluated based on their behavioral characteristics, which is diagnosed during checkups in the first two years of life. A screening test is  recommended by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and also advises the family members of the child to screen for autism.

Treatment for Autism

There is no cure available, but a few treatment options such as psychosocial interventions, medications, education, and learning programs are available for autistic children.

Early treatment can make autistic children's life much easier and help them become self-reliant. Any intervention needs to focus on important aspects of child's development mainly communication skills, social interaction skills, imaginative play skills and academic skills.

How to Care for an Autistic Child?

Every child or adult with autism is different and each of them require a different  medication or treatment because one treatment may not work for the other.

Dr. Mrinmay Das, Consultant, Psychiatry Department, Jaypee Hospital, Noida observed, "Contingent upon their requirements, children who are suffering from autism can receive an expansive scope of treatments. Generally, the treatment incorporates a mix of behaviour therapy, speech-language therapy, social skills training and sometimes feeding therapy."

In addition, physical therapy can help improve motor skills; occupational therapy can help them to learn or enhance basic life skills and other therapies might be essential.

On this World Autism Awareness Day 2018, let's be part of the awareness campaign and encourage everyone to take the necessary measurements and to accept the people with autism without any stigma or discrimination.

References :
  1. World Autism Awareness Day 2 April - (http://www.un.org/en/events/autismday/index.shtml)
  2. Facts about Autism - (https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism/facts-about-autism)
  3. Autism - Facts And Statistics - (http://www.autism-society.org/what-is/facts-and-statistics/)
  4. About Autism - (http://www.autism.org.uk/about.aspx)

Source: Medindia

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