World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is observed on the 2nd Day of April every year since 2008. It is celebrated in order to raise public awareness. When we grow, the society expects us to become a participant in the social, economic and political life of our community. WAAD highlights the need to help and improve the quality of life of those with autism. So, they can lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society.
It is a developmental delay disorder and Autism awareness is represented by the color blue and multi-color puzzle pieces. The theme for WAAD this year is “The Transition to Adulthood”
Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism or autism spectrum disorder is a complex lifelong developmental disability. It tells that how a person communicates and relates to other people around them and how they experience the world around them. They often have an imaginary world of their own. The term spectrum in autism spectrum disorder refers to a range of symptoms and severity. Each child with spectrum disorder is likely to have a unique pattern of behavior and level of severity. Their IQ ranges from low functioning to high functioning. In no two cases, the disease is alike and symptoms can vary from person to person. So, the condition is classified as Spectrum Disorder.
In 2020 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 54 children are diagnosed with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Boys are 4 times are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease than girls. Most children are still being diagnosed after age 4, though the disease can be reliably diagnosed as early as age 2.
Some children show symptoms of autism as early as during infancy while other children at a later stage during childhood. Each child with the disease ASD is having a unique pattern of symptoms, behavior, and level of severity. Below are some common set of symptoms shown by people who have the disease.
Symptoms in Infants and Toddlers
- No waving and smiling.
- No babbling, cooing, or making any sounds.
- Does not like to be cuddled.
- Avoid eye to eye contact and do not smile back.
- The tendency to stare at ceiling fans, light, and hands.
- Becoming very distressed by certain textures.
- Difficulties in communication. Limited interaction with caregivers or people around them.
- Abnormal response to voice, sounds, becoming overwhelmed by a loud noise.
- No response to hearing their own name called.
- Banging of head without admitting danger of self-harming.
Symptoms in Children
- Nonverbal communication problem
- No eye to eye contact or avoid eye contact
- No facial expressions
- Delayed speech and language
- Inappropriate laughter or crying
- Lack of awareness of danger
- Hyperactivity or passiveness
- Preferred to play alone
- Unusual and monotonous games
- Sleep problems
- Emotional and strange attachment to some specific objects
- Trouble interpreting what others feel
- Eccentric way of moving, walking on tips of toes
- Sensitive to loud noises
- Repetitive movements or speech patterns
- Often delayed speech
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Spectrum Disorder Test
There is no specific biological test to make a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. However, specifically trained physicians, psychologists, and speech-language pathologists can do testing.
This testing can capture autism-specific behavioral observations. But still, parents or child caregivers are the first ones to notice signs of unusual behavior in the child. Earlier the autism is diagnosed better is the response and improvement in a child.
Spectrum Disorder Treatment
Autism is usually a lifelong condition. Both children and adults with autism benefit from behavioral interventions and therapies that can reduce the symptoms and increase skills and abilities. The goal of treatment is to maximize your child’s ability to function by reducing symptoms and supporting development and learning. While there is no cure for autism spectrum disorder, intensively, early treatment can make big difference in the lives of many children. Common autism treatment options include
- Behavior therapy
- Communication skills therapy
- Speech –language therapy
- Play-based therapy
- Cognitive behavior therapy
- Early intervention therapy
- Physical therapy (to improve movement and balance)
- Occupational therapy (to teach activities of daily living)
No medication can improve and cure the core signs of autism, but certain specific medications can helpful to control or improve the symptoms. For example if your child is suffering from severe behavioral problem or is hyperactive or is having severe anxiety your health care provider may prescribe certain medications to control or improve the symptoms of your child.
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