Autism – a medical disorder – awareness

Autism – a medical disorder – awareness

Autism  is a complex neurobehavioral condition that includes impairments in social interaction and developmental language and communication skills combined with rigid, repetitive behaviors. Because of the range of symptoms, this condition is now called autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

It covers a large spectrum of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment. ASD ranges in severity from a handicap that somewhat limits an otherwise normal life to a devastating disability that may require institutional care.

Children with autism have trouble communicating. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions and touch.

Real scenario :

About 1 in 68 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) according to estimates from CDC’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.

ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. ASD is almost 5 times more common among boys (1 in 42) than among girls (1 in 189). Despite being a critical issue, the India-specific estimate of the prevalence is still unaccounted.

Moreover, the stigmatization and discrimination associated with neurological differences remain substantial obstacles to diagnosis and therapies, an issue that must be addressed by both public and policy-makers.

History of Autism :

From the early 1900s, autism has referred to a range of neuro-psychological conditions. But where did the term come from, and how has knowledge about autism changed?

Where Did the Term “Autism” Come From?

The word “autism” comes from the Greek word “autos,” which means “self.” It describes conditions in which a person is removed from social interaction. In other words, he becomes an “isolated self.”

Eugen Bleuler, a Swiss psychiatrist, was the first person to use the term. He started using it around 1911 to refer to one group of symptoms related to schizophrenia.

In the 1940s, researchers in the United States began to use “autism” to describe children with emotional or social problems. Leo Kanner, a doctor from Johns Hopkins University, used it to explain the behavior of several children he studied who acted withdrawn.

Autism and Schizophrenia :

Autism and schizophrenia remained linked in many researchers’ minds until the 1960s. It was only then that medical professionals began to have a separate understanding of autism in children.

From the 1960s through the 1970s, research into treatments for autism focused on medications such as LSD, electric shock, and behavioral change techniques. The latter relied on pain and punishment.

During the 1980s and 1990s, the role of behavioral therapy and the use of highly controlled learning environments emerged as the primary treatments for many forms of autism and related conditions. Currently, the cornerstones of autism therapy are behavioral therapy and language therapy. Other treatments are added as needed.

Symptoms of autism :

Signs and symptoms of autism in a child, such as ADHD, OCD, depression, there, epilepsy and hyperactivity.

Autism Symptoms and Signs :

  • Abnormal Body Posturing or Facial Expressions.
  • Abnormal Tone of Voice.
  • Avoidance of Eye Contact or Poor Eye Contact.
  • Behavioral Disturbances.
  • Deficits in Language Comprehension.
  • Delay in Learning to Speak.
  • Flat or Monotonous Speech.
  • Inappropriate Social Interaction

Social communication and interaction :

A child or adult with autism spectrum disorder may have problems with social interaction and communication skills, including any of these signs:

  • Fails to respond to his or her name or appears not to hear you at times
  • Resists cuddling and holding, and seems to prefer playing alone, retreating into his or her own world
  • Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
  • Doesn’t speak or has delayed speech, or loses previous ability to say words or sentences
  • Can’t start a conversation or keep one going, or only starts one to make requests or label items
  • Speaks with an abnormal tone or rhythm and may use a singsong voice or robot-like speech
  • Repeats words or phrases verbatim, but doesn’t understand how to use them
  • Doesn’t appear to understand simple questions or directions
  • Doesn’t express emotions or feelings and appears unaware of others’ feelings
  • Doesn’t point at or bring objects to share interest
  • Inappropriately approaches a social interaction by being passive, aggressive or disruptive
  • Has difficulty recognizing nonverbal cues, such as interpreting other people’s facial expressions, body postures or tone of voice

Causes :

Autism spectrum disorder has no single known cause. Given the complexity of the disorder, and the fact that symptoms and severity vary, there are probably many causes. Both genetics and environment may play a role.

Genetics. Several different genes appear to be involved in autism spectrum disorder. For some children, autism spectrum disorder can be associated with a genetic disorder, such as Rett syndrome or fragile X syndrome.

For other children, genetic changes (mutations) may increase the risk of autism spectrum disorder. Still other genes may affect brain development or the way that brain cells communicate, or they may determine the severity of symptoms. Some genetic mutations seem to be inherited, while others occur spontaneously.

Environmental factors. Researchers are currently exploring whether factors such as viral infections, medications or complications during pregnancy, or air pollutants play a role in triggering autism spectrum disorder.

Complications :

Problems with social interactions, communication and behavior can lead to:

  • Problems in school and with successful learning
  • Employment problems
  • Inability to live independently
  • Social isolation
  • Stress within the family
  • Victimization and being bullied

Prevention :

There’s no way to prevent autism spectrum disorder, but there are treatment options. Early diagnosis and intervention is most helpful and can improve behavior, skills and language development. However, intervention is helpful at any age. Though children usually don’t outgrow autism spectrum disorder symptoms, they may learn to function well.

On the World Autism Awareness Month, Forum Mall Koramangala and I Support Foundation organized Quiet hour on 2nd April 2019 and will be organizing Autism Fest on 13th April 2019 along with volunteering partner Oracle, activity partners AltLab Innovators, Colorothon and Giggles contributing to the cause of raising awareness and acceptance about Autism. Both the events will be held in Forum Mall Koramangala, Bangalore.

AUTISM FEST (April 13th, 2019 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM)

Objective:April being World Autism Awareness Day and promoting community awareness, social acceptance, inclusion, and educating about differently abled while providing a place to foster friendship and show kids, families facing developmental ability love and support.

The festival includes:
  • A resource craft fair, kids play area, indoor games (Board and Sensory games, Snake and Ladder, Chess).
  • Approximately 100 students and their families to participate in the autism street fest organized to raise awareness
  • Skill training DIY – best out of waste.
  • Fun activities like face painting, watercolor painting, caricature.
  • A stall for answering queries of parents with respect to Autism.
  • Magic Show, Cartoon characters, Music, and fun.
  • Art arena, Photo booth.
  • Refreshments.
Impact:
  • This initiative is to support autistic kids, adults and their families to come out.
  • Forum Mall Koramangala being the first Mall to show gesture for social inclusion.
  • Creating a welcoming and socially acceptable environment. 
  • A small change can bring a huge difference. A recent study found that 64% of people with autism avoid going into shops due to the fear of sensory overload.

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