Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness

To commemorate World Autism Awareness Day, which falls on April 2 as per the United Nations calendar, we present to you a number of truths about a condition that affects as many as 2 in 1,000 people worldwide. Having autism is not the same as being mentally retarded or lacking developmental skills. It is a different way of learning and perceiving that requires understanding and custom-made treatments, allowing those who have autism to enjoy the benefits of a complete life.
 
As a spectrum disorder, autism has a broad range of signs and symptoms. This variety of degrees and levels means that people with the condition can be mildly autistic or highly autistic. It’s just as likely that you’ll find people with autism to be bright and verbal as it is that you’ll find those who are quiet and underdeveloped. A common shared trait is a visible difficulty with interpersonal communication. Things such as making eye contact, striking up a conversation, being able to see another person’s point of view, and agreeing to new routines are defining factors.
 
Asperger syndrome might no longer be a formal diagnosis as of May 2013, but the term is still used to denote a form of autism that features on-time speech development, in which people are intelligent and have little difficulty communicating their ideas, but still have a number of social problems such as accepting a different point of view. In essence, it is a high-functioning variant of autism that doesn’t restrict one’s ability to pursue intelligence and success as much as other degrees of the condition.
 
Spectrum Disorder 
 
Don’t judge all autistic people based on one individual, because the condition presents itself in a number of ways. This means that one person with autism can be vastly different from another. You might have seen Rain Man or “The Big Bang Theory” and think that you can recognise autism based on your perception of Raymond Babbitt or Sheldon Cooper, but the truth is that it’s no basis for anything. You could meet two different people with autism, and one might be chatty while the other remains silent. Like fingerprints, each person with autism is different.
 
Autism is a condition that is treated, not cured. Current medical research indicates that there is no way to reverse the condition, but that’s not to say that people with autism can’t benefit from treatment and grow as individuals. Some of them even improve radically, going on to forge careers as academics or developers. However, even the most skilled among them remain autistic despite any improvement in ability. They still think differently and see the world in a completely different way. And just as each person with autism is different, so too does each of them benefit from unique treatments.
 
While it’s not as difficult as having the condition, being a caregiver to or family member of a person with autism presents its own challenges. Life can be tough for the parents, grandparents and siblings of people with even high-functioning autism. Stress can come from social expectations and pressure, academic difficulties, a desire to see one’s family member integrate into ‘normal’ society, and financial burdens.
 
Many schools advertise themselves as being autism-friendly, or perhaps they have a track record of several autistic students exceeding expectations. Remember that each child with autism is different from the rest. As much as they present unique conditions and need tailored treatment, so too do they need an educational environment that will let them take advantage of their different perception. If a child with autism succeeds in a given school or classroom, it is because that environment or its related factors work for the child, not the other way around.
 
Autism is a condition that is treated, not cured 
 
Among the many myths about people with autism are that they have no emotions, or that they cannot go on to have successful careers and families of their own. The truth is that when you’re discussing anything related to a spectrum disorder such as autism, the terms ‘always’ and ‘never’ can’t be used. If you want to find out more about a person with autism, get to know him personally by spending time together.
 
You’ll find that many people with autism have strengths and abilities you never imagined. Some of them can perceive things in a way that reveal information most of us would never even consider or imagine. Many people with autism can be some of the most honest, non-judgmental and caring people you will ever come across. They are also wonderful family members, loyal friends, and productive members of the workplace and society at large.                                                                                                        .....  Ashwin