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Thursday, December 1, 2022

Dealing With the Misconstrued Stigma of Autism

Autism, often known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a group of disorders characterized by difficulties with social skills, repetitive activities, language, and non-verbal communication. Autism affects 1 in 44 children in the United States today, according to the Centers for Disease Control.  

What is an autistic person like? 

Autistic people can behave differently from others.  

  • Finds it difficult to talk and interact with others.
  • Finding things like bright lights or loud, overwhelming, upsetting, or uncomfortable noises have trouble understanding how other people think or feel. 
  • Fidgeting or worrying about new social scenarios or interactions. 
  • Take longer to understand information or repeatedly do or believe the same things. 

Research into autism spectrum disorders (ASD) has been on the increase since the 1940s. While studying special and inclusive education with my dissertation in autism. 

What are the symptoms of autism?  

Symptoms of ASD typically become clearly evident during early childhood, between 12 and 24 months of age. However, symptoms can also appear sooner or later. 

Early symptoms may include marked delay in language or social development. 

The DSM-5 divides the symptoms of ASD into two categories

  • Communication and social interaction problems.
  • Limited or repetitive patterns of behavior or activities. 

To be diagnosed with autism, a person must exhibit symptoms in both of these categories. 

Problems of communication and social interaction 

ASD can lead to a number of problems with communication, many of which appear before age 5. 

Here’s a general timeline of what it might look like

  • From birth: Difficulty maintaining eye contact  
  • Within 9 months: They don’t respond to their name  
  • Within 9 months: Don’t show facial expressions that reflect your emotions (such as surprise or anger) 
  • Within 12 months: Do not engage in basic interactive games, such as peek-a-boo or pat-a-cake 
  • Within 12 months: Don’t use (or use only a few) hand gestures, such as shaking hands  
  • Within 15 months: Don’t share your interests with others (showing someone a favorite toy, for example 
  • Within 18 months: Don’t point or look where others are pointing 
  • Within 24 months: Not noticing when others appear sad or hurt  
  • Within 30 months: Do not engage in “pretend play”, such as taking care of a doll or playing with figurines  
  • By 60 months of age: Don’t play turn-based, duck-duck-goose type 

Additionally, children with autism may have difficulty expressing their feelings or understanding those of others starting at 36 months. 

Various interventions have been suggested for the variable diagnosis of autism. Currently, every difficult learning condition is now grouped under the autism umbrella. Thus, the spectrum of autism is now broader and has raised the search for an ongoing diagnosis and possible treatment for this condition. 

Facts that can help us address the misinterpreted stigma of autism and help us focus on supporting children who have been diagnosed with the condition 

  • Parents / guardians MUST accept that their child is different and needs support. These children see the world differently and we should try to make an effort to enter their world to support them. An early intervention from the age of two could produce good results now and in the future. We do not remain in self-denial. Be honest with yourself and stop facing the baby. It’s not about you BUT the baby. Let the child’s well-being come first.  
  • Don’t see autism as a stigma. We have to accept that these children can belong to anyone. They have not asked to be born and they are not the cause of the condition they have. They have the potential to learn and become independent if we can support them early enough, especially high functioning autistic children.  
  • Once diagnosed, parents / guardians should attend seminars / training courses and seek educational advice on how best to support the child (ren). You may also want to do some personal research to help you understand what autism is all about. You will be amazed by some testimonials from children who have excelled with this condition.  
  • Don’t hide that baby. God has given you a child that you are capable of taking care of. Let your child enjoy what other children like. Take them to places where other children go, such as the park, amusement parks, vacation spots, family reunions, etc.  
  • Let your child look good. Dress them in the best clothes and show the world that your child is special. Make the difference!  
  • Always take a positive approach and encourage your child to do the same regardless of the conditions. 
  • Avoid self-pity for yourself and your child.  

Also Read: Why is food security a problem on a resource-rich continent like Africa?

  • Let that child take responsibility for his daily actions. They have a brain and they can use it. Support them. Don’t pamper them!  
  • Work closely with professionals, such as teachers, educational psychologists, labor theorists, speech therapists and speech therapists, etc. to get the best tools to support your child.  
  • Let your child’s results speak to all other parents / guardians of children who have not been diagnosed or diagnosed with autism.  

#Don’t forget to get your PVC

 

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