To Everyone Living, Surviving and Thriving With Autism, This Post Is In Honor of All That You Do To Make Life Better For Us All.
April is National Autism Awareness Month.
EVERYONE Reading this Post Right Now Has Either Directly, or Indirectly, Been Affected by AUTISM.
Like So Many Other Conditions, AUTISM is Ingrained in the Very Fabric of Our Society. And It is Our Duty, as Health Care Providers and Citizens, to INFORM, EDUCATE and Help CARE for Our Family, Friends, Neighbors, or Simply Fellow Human Beings, Who Have Been Affected by AUTISM.
Let’s Go Over the Basics and Then Touch On Some of the Many Things We All Can Do, to Improve the Lives of Those Affected By this Condition.
What is Autism?
****First Described by Leo Kanner in 1944
Also Referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Defined as a Mental Condition, Present from Early Childhood, Characterized By Difficulty in Communicating and Forming Relationships with Other People and in Using Language and Abstract Concepts
Who is Affected?
1 in 68 Children Has Autism
4-5 Times More Common in BOYS than Girls.
**1 out of 42 Boys, Compared to 1 out of 189 Girls, are Diagnosed with Autism in the United States.
**3 Million People are Affected by ASD in the United States and Tens of Millions Across the Globe
The Prevalence (The Number of Persons with a Specific Condition, Living in the Population) Rate has Increased by 10-17% Annually in Recent Years…..
WHY…..and What are the CAUSES of AUTISM???
There Are Multiple Theories for this Increase in Prevalence, Including:
1. Improved Diagnosis
2. Environmental Factors…..Chemicals/Toxins…..Viral Infections
What Are Some of the Signs and Symptoms of Autism?
***********Usually Appear Between 2 and 3 Years of Age************
1. Social Challenges
Infants…..Failure to Respond to Their Name….Delayed Babbling
Toddlers..Difficulty Playing Social Games…..Don’t Imitate the Actions of
Others……Prefer to Play Alone…..Fail to Seek Comfort
Adults…..Difficulty Regulating Emotions…..’Immature Behavior’….Crying/
Outbursts in Inappropriate Situations…..Disruptive of Physically
Aggressive Behavior…..Frustration May Result in Self Harm….
Head Banging/Hair Pulling/Self Biting
2. Communication Difficulties
a. Delay in Babbling and Speaking…..or loss of these abilities over time
b. Delay in Physical Gestures and Commands
c.May Use Speech in Unusual Ways….Difficulty Combining Words….
d.Repetitive Speech…..Prolonged Monologues
3. Repetitive Behaviors
a.Unusual Repetitive Behaviors…..Ex. wiggling fingers in front of eyes
b.Restricted Range of Activities…..Ex. Lining up toys in a specific pattern,
rather than using them for play
4. Associated Medical Conditions
Fragile X Syndrome
Chromosome 15 Duplication Syndrome
Congenital Rubella Syndrome
****Single Gene Disorders Affect 15-20% of People with Autism*****
5. GI Distress…..Constipation…..Diarrhea……Inflammatory Bowel Disease
6. Seizure Disorders…..Affects up to 39% of People with Autism
7. Sleep Dysfunction
8. Sensory Processing Problems…Sights…Sounds…Smells…Taste..Movement
May interpret a seemingly ‘normal’ stimuli as painful…confusing or
9. Pica…..Eating things that are not food…..dirt…clay…paint….chalk
There are two domains where people with ASD must show persistent deficits:
1. persistent social communication and social interaction
2. restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior
What Are Some Factors That Can Increase the Risk of Autism?
******Note That There is No One ‘Cause’ of Autism. Rather There are Genetic and Environmental Factors That Contribute to the Risk of Having a Child With Autism******
1. Advanced Parental Age (Mom and Dad)
2. Maternal Illness During Pregnancy…..Ex. Diabetes
3. Difficulties During Birth That Result in Oxygen Deprivation
4. Folate Deficiency
*******There Are Also Research Studies Underway, Investigating the Impact of VIRAL INFECTIONS….METABOLIC IMBALANCES….CHEMICALS…and Their Impact on Autism******
Does Having a Child with Autism Increase Your Chance of Having Another Child with Autism?
*There is an Increased Chance, 3-18.7%, of Having Another Child with Autism*
*This Chance Increases to 26.2%, if the Subsequent Child is Male*
Are There Different ‘Types’ of Autism?
****Please Recognize and Remember That Each Individual with Autism is Individual and Unique*****
Yes, There Are Different Types, Degrees of Expression and Severity of Autism
****Commonly Described as ‘On The Spectrum‘*****
As Discussed Earlier, Autism is Also Referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
Some Other Terms You May Have Heard Are:
1. Asperger Syndrome
a. Also Referred to as …..‘High Functioning Autism’
b. Limited or Inappropriate Social Interactions
c. ‘Robotic’ or Repetitive Speech
d. Average to Above Average Verbal Skills
e. Lack of Eye Contact or Reciprocal Conversation
f. Awkward Movements or Mannerisms
2. Autistic Disorder
3. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder
4. Pervasive Developmental Disorder-not otherwise specified (PPD-NOS)
**Also, Note That Approximately 40% of People with Autism Have Average to Above Average Intellectual Abilities…….Visual Skills….Music….Academics*****
Some Famous Folks with Autism…..
1. Mozart (Composer)
2. Daryl Hannah (Actress)
3. Tim Burton (Filmmaker)
4. Andy Warhol (Artist)
5. Dan Aykroyd (Actor)
Historical Figures with Autism
What TREATMENT is Available for People with AUTISM?
**This Will Depend Upon the Specific Delays Exhibited by the Child or Adult**
1. Behavior Therapy
2. Medications, Ex. to treat GI Symptoms, Seizures, Metabolic Disturbances
3. Counseling/Therapy for both, the child and family
4. Social Skills Training
5. Transition Training for Adults…Fosters Independence…Career Development
***Studies Have Proven that Early Intervention, in Children with Autism, Have Improved LEARNING, COMMUNICATION and SOCIAL SKILLS*****
**So, as with anything, the earlier the diagnosis and treatment, the better the outcome***
***The Degree of Improvement Will Vary, Depending Upon the Severity of the Disability. However, Most Children and Adults with Autism, Display Improvement with Therapy*******
*********If You Have a Child, Spouse, Family Member or Friend with Autism, or Are Concerned that They May Be ‘On The Spectrum’, Please Contact Your Pediatrician, Primary Care Physician (or other Health Care Provider, HCP) for Additional Assistance and Direction*******
If You Would Like to Speak with Someone or Read Up on Autism, Check Out the Following Links:
1. AUTISM SPEAKS
2. CENTER FOR AUTISM
CONTACT US TOLL FREE (PARA AYUDA EN ESPAÑOL): 1-855-345-CARD (2273)
3. EDEN II Programs
List of Top Ten Autism Sites for Parents
If You Have Additional Resources, Recommendations or Thoughts, Please Leave a Comment and SHARE This Critical Information!!!!
Take Care. Be Well. Be Safe.
Lisa Whitty Bradley, M.D., FACS
CEO & Founder
Chicks With MDs, LLC
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Download Interactive Book for Parents
Check Out Site and YouTube Channel….Great info!
100 Day Kit. Free Download for Kids Recently Diagnosed with Autism
Risk of Autism in Subsequent Children