Every one of us has probably stumbled upon the word ‘autism’ at some time or another, or even know people with the condition. Autism, scientifically known as ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), is characterized by repetitive behaviour, diminished social skills, non-verbal communication, and speech challenges.
Generally, we already know that there is not just one type of autism but quite an array of subtypes that are influenced primarily by a combination of environmental or even genetic factors.
What is Autism?
Autism is a spectrum disorder (one whose range of conditions are linked. Each person with autism develops specific strengths and challenges.
Autism comes in many forms to the people living with it. The condition can manifest itself in a person through regular day successes and failures. Some people with autism need help in almost anything they do, while others live entirely independently and even thrive.
Many factors can accelerate the development of autism, typically followed up by mental health challenges such as depression, anxiety, and attention. Additionally, sensory sensitivity, sleep disorders, seizures, and Gastrointestinal Bleeding (GI) disorders can be aftermaths of autism.
Autism is highly prevalent in Africa, however, since public awareness is an area that needs improvement, people with autism still face stigma. To help raise awareness, we shall look at several things you need to know about autism and people with autism.
Everyone with Autism is Unique
Contrary to popular belief, autism is not the same for every person living with it. Children with autism tend to have unique personalities and abilities distinct from other children. Some develop skills such as reading, writing, speaking, and generally tackling more challenging situations than other children. As some children can be born with non-verbal disabilities that cause them to speak later or never speak at all, most children with autism, although shy and not good with people, begin speaking at an early age. These children can be unbelievably talented in music, art, math, and sports. Also, people with autism have distinct strengths and weaknesses. While some can remember things that they saw while they were children, known as people with photographic memories, others can solve complex mathematical problems faster than even their teachers and, at times, more accurately!
People with autism need you to be sensitive and patient with them
Social interactions for people with autism, especially children, can be challenging. The child might be uninterested in their age mates or find it difficult to relate. Additionally, the child might be struggling with the inability to predict their peers’ actions if they were to engage them. Most people with autism cannot keep a conversation going; hence, they choose to bulk in their own company.
During discussions, people with autism might avoid eye contact since they are not used to looking at people in their eyes. Sometimes, non-autistic people mistake people with autism for being rude while using one of their coping mechanisms to get away from an uncomfortable situation. They might even not reply to the conversation and are probably confused about what you expect of them.
To communicate with people with autism, one must remember that they are talking to an average person. The only difference is that the person might be more sensitive than others, might not understand subtle social cues, and probably have a higher intelligence quotient (IQ).
People with autism need to be understood and treated with patience so that they can feel comfortable with other people. They do not respond well to shouting or cracking jokes that might get to them. When talking to a person with autism, make sure that they understand what you say. Otherwise, they might walk away or ask you off.
Autism is not caused by bad parenting
Due to the significant number of cases reported in the news concerning people with autism and how lousy parenting habits triggered their condition, many people consider this misconception valid. Horrifying events can change a child’s perception of the world, but it is essential to remember that many people are born with autism.
Some children with autism exhibit mood changes and depression at infancy, indicators that some of them had the condition even before their parents made the mistake of showing off their dirty sides in front of the toddler. Foster parents can also attest to this fact since many of them have adopted children who they realize, later on, are living with the condition.
Sometimes autism is accompanied by other conditions
Autism, as mentioned above, is followed along by other conditions such as depression, sleep disorders, ADHD, intellectual disability, language skills, toe walking, loss of social skills, and loss of speech cognition capabilities.
Children with autism are still that, children
Children with autism have the same issues that typical children have. They crave their mother’s love and affection, and they cry when they need something, they suckle and somewhat remain cute and cuddly. However, some may lack the communication skills expected to express these feelings. Since they cannot express their emotions as candidly as non-autistic children, children with autism might throw more tantrums than expected.
Other autism facts
Autism does not affect just a specific group of people. The disorder can affect anyone, anywhere, irrespective of creed, nationality, religion, colour, race, etc. These kinds of disorders teach us the importance of teaming up to develop a logical solution.
In Africa, ASD affects 1 in every 68 children, with boys at the highest risk than girls. The statistics say that boys get autism five times faster than girls do.
Medical professionals advise people to strive to control the effects of autism as early as possible. Since the disorder is not currently curable but manageable, the child’s skills should be based on early timing.
The disorder is not classified as degenerative. Hence, the individuals living with ASD keep on improving. The improvements are essential in helping people with autism express their emotions and freely co-exist with other people in the world.