World Autism awareness and pride day or month with Puzzle pattern ribbon on wooden background.

Image Credit: vetre – stock.adobe.com

Every year we join the world in April for Autism Awareness Month! This is to raise awareness and remove the stigma attached to the condition. It might shock you to read that even in 2024, people living with disabilities still experience discrimination and marginalisation, and their family feels isolated and alone in their journey.

What is Autism 

Autism is a neurobiological condition that prevents individuals from properly understanding what they see, hear, and sense which could result in cognitive challenges in social relationships, behaviour, and communication. The word autism comes from the Greek word “auto” which simply means “self”. So these individuals tend to be “self-focused”. It is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how a person communicates with and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.

Autism is a spectrum condition, which means that while all people with autism share certain difficulties, their condition will affect them in different ways. Some people with autism can live relatively independent lives, but others may have accompanying learning disabilities and need a lifetime of specialist support.

According to the organisation, Autism Speaks, the Autism Spectrum Disorder and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterised, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and non-verbal communication, and repetitive behaviours. They include autistic disorder, Rett syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention, and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math, and art.

Autism appears to have its roots in very early brain development. However, the most obvious signs of autism and symptoms of autism tend to emerge between the ages of two and three.

What are the causes?

There are various theories as to the causes of autism, but none has been proven yet. However, for now, it is safe to say the cause of Autism is unknown.

WHY AUTISM ACCEPTANCE MONTH IS IMPORTANT

It is the fastest-growing developmental disorder
There are approximately 70 million recognized cases of autism worldwide. Autism has to be accepted with love. 

The increasing occurrences of autism in the world is a sign that it is high time the general public is factually educated on the disorder to inspire change and support. This month reminds us to be empathetic, warm, and welcoming to autistic individuals and families around us.

Early intervention helps deal with autism
 If we can screen autism at an early age by being aware of its signs and symptoms, we can improve quality of lives such as by underlying brain development, behavior therapy, and occupational therapy.