April is World Autism Awareness Month—a period when a concerted effort to increase awareness, understanding, and acceptance of ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) and living with autism, is made.
Autism is a development disorder characterized by difficulties in impaired communication, social circumstances and repetitive behaviour noticed by parents and care-givers from six months of age until the first three years of a child’s life.
A professional evaluation assesses through several screenings, cognitive levels, language abilities, blood & and hearing tests and age-appropriate skills with regard to eating, dressing, and toileting. It is essential that autistic children receive speech therapy and patient guidance to learn behaviourial skills to enable them to learn cope when older. Special exercises, like swimming to combat frustration are necessary. With help, some children have recovered although many are unable to cope with independent adult lives. That brings increased worry for families as lifetime aid is required.
Any type of exercise that your child enjoys can be beneficial. Walking and simply having fun on the playground are both ideal.
One such effort to create awareness is by the Techwalla site this morning as they explained that “Sesame Street is doing its part this month by introducing Julia’s entire family, giving viewers even more resources as they face their own unique family challenges. Julia was the first muppet with autism to appear on Sesame Street back in 2017, finally giving a face to autism for the kids who need to see themselves in a character, as well as for the kids who could use a gentle explanation of what it’s like to have autism. Sesame Workshop has several resources to help families of children with autism on its website, and there’s also a really cool app for preschool aged kids and their parents.
The Sesame Street and Autism app is designed to help teach kids on the spectrum life skills. The app offers interactive games that teaches different basic routines.”
Did you know that :
- Although it is said that autistic children prefer to be alone, they suffer from frequent intense bouts of loneliness.
- Boys are at higher risk for ASD than girls.
- The risk of autism is greater in older parents (more fathers than mothers).
- Individuals with ASD are more prone to having problems with sleep, hence the need for melatonin.
- Anxiety disorders are common among children with ASD.
- Autistic individuals are more prone to having epileptic attacks.
- In autism, a diet of unsaturated fats, fresh fruit and vegetable, lean poultry and water is recommended minus artificial additives, such as preservatives and sweeteners.
- Back in the day circa 1790’s, those children with autism were considered Feral Children.
I remember my autistic neighbour Essendran with fondness. Essendran, a handsome teenager, drooled, his smile was infectious but his love for love thumping music induced repetitive head shaking, body rocking which we understood then as dance. His father was a quiet, retiring chap and most of Essendran’s life was managed by a strong, loving and praying mother. A protective mother out of necessity, she felt the social stigma, disapproval and taunts at her child’s autistic behavior and removed herself from situations until those social outings were strictly family related.
Autism awareness also requires empathy and an understanding that ASDs are different for everyone. People are encouraged to be more tolerant and think of those with autism as being different rather than having a disease. The idea is to provide social support, encourage meaningful relationships and create employment. Let us all encourage, motivate and support differently abled individuals.