Did you know that 1 in 68 children are diagnosed with autism? This can mean that autism is more common than combined childhood cancer, cerebral palsy, and Down syndrome. In fact, you can read all about it in UltiBlog’s Highest Rated Books On Developmental Assessment.
Despite this, many people still do not understand what autism is and how to best support those who have it. If you’re one of these people, we at Ultiblog encourage you to learn more about autism and embrace it.
While some individuals with autism may be non-verbal or require significant assistance with daily activities, others may be very high functioning and able to live independently. The critical thing to remember when learning to embrace autism is that every individual with autism is unique in their own way. There is no one-size-fits-all to this disorder.
What Is Autism?
Autism, also known as an autistic spectrum disorder (ASD), is a severe condition that affects communication and behavior. It can include a range of symptoms and abilities. ASD might be a little difficult or need full-time care in a particular institution depending on the severity of the condition.
The ratio of boys to girls with autism is 3:1, according to a recent meta-analysis. In fact, the actual male-to-female ratio is closer to 3:1 in ASD. According to the National Library of Medicine study, Autism Spectrum Disorder females who fulfill diagnostic criteria for ASD are more likely to go undiagnosed.
Females with autism spectrum disorder may be misdiagnosed, diagnosed later, or neglected. Not only are females less likely to exhibit observable symptoms than males, but they are also more likely to camouflage their social deficits by using the term “camouflaging,” which hinders a timely diagnosis. Likewise, gender biases and stereotypes of ASD as a male disorder could also hamper diagnoses in girls.
What Causes Autism?
In the National Library Of Medicine’s study Examining the Causes of Autism, the exact cause of ASD is unknown. However, it’s believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. As well as the mother’s habits or body.
Research indicates that autism tends to run in families. However, just because your mother or father has the genes or the DNA does not mean you are autistic. Genetics does not cause autism. Genetics increases the risk of getting autism.
40 to 80 percent of the risk for autism is attributed to genes. The chance of developing this complicated condition is determined by a person’s genetic susceptibility and external risk factors, such as parental age and birth complications.
Drugs, specifically valproic acid and serotonin reuptake inhibitors ingested during pregnancy, could substantially increase autism risk. 7.5 percent of the children born from mothers who took antiepileptic medication during their pregnancies had a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Researchers who have taken part in the study “Examining the Causes of Autism” have examined environmental toxins. These include automobile-caused air pollution, cigarettes, and industrial pollutants like heavy metals and pesticides.
If a family’s home is near a highway or an agricultural region during pregnancy, there are indications that autism risk may be higher. However, further investigation is needed in this area.
Because autism is a neurodevelopmental disease that undoubtedly reflects altered brain activity, injury to the brain likely happens after birth. Measles, mumps, and rubella vaccinations given to children between one year and 12 months of age might turn a healthy kid into an autistic one.
There is presently very little evidence for this. Fear for this emerged in the late 1970s when some children exhibited regressive onset—a kid appears suitable for the first year or two, then loses social and language skills and reverts to an autistic condition.
Infection During Pregnancy
In a study by Stella Chess, a child psychiatrist found that 37% of children exposed to rubella had intellectual disabilities while 9 of these children were also diagnosed with autism.
Sixty-four percent of women surveyed in the US have experienced an infection during their pregnancies. The National Library Of Medicine’s article on Examining the Causes of Autism states that it doesn’t always lead to autism or any other neurodevelopmental disorders. It can, however, be an influencing factor.
A Mother Who Experienced Childhood Abuse
Those exposed to childhood abuse are likely to engage in behaviors that may harm the fetus. These include smoking, drug abuse, and overeating (being obese).
Exposure to intimate partner violence or extreme stress in the prenatal period is also likely to cause autism. As stated in the National Library Of Medicine’s article, Maternal Exposure To Childhood Abuse Is Associated With Elevated Risk Of Autism.
How Do You Know If Someone Has Autism?
The earliest symptoms of ASD typically occur between 12 and 24 months. However, symptoms can appear earlier or later than that. A child might not show signs of autism while young. However, once they grow older, these signs may become more prevalent, and it’s easier to diagnose.
Or more complex, depending on the individual. Symptoms can also differ as an individual could exhibit all or only three signs of autism. The study “Autism Spectrum Disorder” by the National Library of Medicine can confirm the following symptoms.
Signs of Autism
- no gesturing by 12 months
- when they’re a child, they pretend play far less than other children
- odd or intensely focused interests
- concrete or literal thinking
- have trouble understanding emotions
- show an interest in peers but lack conversational skills
- prevalence of epilepsy
- gastrointestinal disorders (GI)
- restrictive eating
- sleep problems
- attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- obsessive-compulsive disorder
- mood disorders
- disruptive behavior disorders
- loss or little to no motor skills
- coarse features
- poor eye contact
- lack of showing and sharing
- language delay
- sensory integration disorder
- repetitive behavior
Challenges Faced By Autistic People
Autism is a neurological disorder that affects social skills, communication, and behavior. People with autism face many daily challenges that neurotypical people will never understand and take for granted.
Tasks or situations that are easy for us will never be easy for those with autism.
Someone With Autism Can Struggle With Change
Individuals on the autism spectrum may be more sensitive to change. Many people on the autism spectrum prefer consistent environments with a regular pattern because of their behavioral, informational processing, and sensory characteristics.
Even minor changes can be stressful due to restricted and repetitive interests, sensory processing differences, and heightened anxiety. You can read more about this in Common Challenges by Autism Tasmania.
Autistic People Struggle With Anxiety
People with autism have higher levels of anxiety than their typically developing counterparts, according to Common Challenges by Autism Tasmania. Anxiety may manifest in an autistic person through:
- social phobia
- excessive worry/rumination
- obsessive-compulsive behavior
- hyper-vigilance, or seeming “shell shocked.”
- avoidance behaviors
- rigid routines and resistance to change
- stimming and/or self-injurious behavior
- controlling behaviors – oppositional defiance
- shut down
People With Autism Struggle With Communication
The ability of children with ASD to communicate and use language depends on their intellectual and social growth. Some youngsters with ASD may not be able to talk or speak, while others may have minor speaking abilities. Others might have an extensive vocabulary and the ability to discuss specific themes at length.
Many children with ASD struggle to comprehend words and sentences at an early age. They may also be unable to interpret body language or understand the meanings of different vocal tones.
When combined, these issues limit young persons on the autism spectrum in their capacity to interact with others, especially people their own age. This information is based on the National Insitute On Deafness And Other Communication Disorders’ article, Autism Spectrum Disorder: Communication Problems in Children.
How You Can Embrace Your Autistic Children
Seek Out Professional Help
Caring for a child with ASD may require considerable energy and time. There may be times when you are overwhelmed, stressed, or disappointed. Parenting is never simple, and raising a kid with special needs is significantly more difficult.
Don’t try to accomplish everything on your own. You don’t have to! Families of children with ASD may seek advice, a hand-up, advocacy, and support from a variety of places:
Children with ASD struggle to apply what they’ve learned in one location (for example, at a therapist’s office or school) to other settings, including the home. For instance, your child may use sign language at school but never consider it at home.
The most straightforward approach to ensure that your youngster’s environment is consistent is to continue what their specialists are doing at home. Find out what your child’s therapists are doing and follow their techniques at home.
Stick To A Schedule
Children with ASD typically perform best while following a well-structured routine or timetable. This is yet another example of the consistency they require and desire.
Create a timetable for your kid, with meal times, therapy sessions, school hours, and bedtime. Keep disruptions to this routine to a minimum.
Reward Good Behavior
Positive reinforcement can significantly impact children with ASD, so make an effort to notice them performing well. Praise them when they act appropriately or acquire a new skill, being very clear about the particular conduct you’re praising them for.
Look for other methods to thank them for good conduct, such as giving them a sticker or allowing them to play with their favorite toy.
Create A Home Safety Zone
Make a protected place for your child to unwind, feel safer, and be secure in their own space. This will entail organizing and establishing limits in a way your child can comprehend.
It’s possible that colorful tape, for example, could be helpful (colored tape marking off-limits regions, labeling objects in the house with images). Safety proofing the house may be required, mainly if your kid is prone to tantrums or other self-injurious behavior.
Pay Heed To Your Child’s Sensory Sensitivities
Light, sound, touch, taste, and smell are all over-sensitive for many children with ASD. Some kids with autism are “under-sensitive” to the senses.
Determine what sights, noises, scents, motions, and tactile sensations set off your child’s “bad” or disruptive behaviors and what elicits a good reaction. To learn more about caring for your autistic children, we suggest reading Helping Your Child with Autism Thrive.
How You Can Embrace Your Autistic Friend
Ask How To Be A Good Friend
The most straightforward approach to encouraging and having a good connection is to inquire how you may be a wonderful friend, coworker, etc. So don’t be hesitant to ask your autistic buddy, “How can I be a better friend?”
Be An Active Listener
When spending time with your autistic buddy, listen and don’t be in a rush to respond or offer an opinion. Simply be there to provide a listening ear.
You may have to wait longer for a response or go through a lengthy explanation, but you will pick up new information in the end.
When a friend asks you for help, it is essential to be supportive. This means being sensitive to what they want and needs, not just how you think they should improve or behave.
Every situation is different, so it is essential to be flexible in your approach. For example, if a friend is struggling with anxiety, you might provide emotional support by listening to their concerns or keeping objects around that will soothe them.
So, we recommend these products to help and keep them calm;
Help Them With Their Social Skills
It is challenging to know how to help a friend with autism when it comes to social skills. Autistic people have difficulty reading social cues, understanding body language, and picking up on sarcasm or jokes. Their struggle can make it hard for them to make friends and participate in group conversations.
However, there are a few things you can do to help your autistic friend with their social skills. Try to be patient and understanding. Explain social concepts in simple terms, and don’t get frustrated if it takes a little longer for your friend to understand.
Don’t Make Choices For Them
You’ve probably heard that autistic people have trouble making choices. You may have even experienced this yourself if you have an autistic friend who can’t seem to choose between two options. While it’s true that autistic people can find decision-making difficult, there’s a reason for this.
Autistic people are often susceptible to sensory input, including the choices they have to make. Every choice has sensory consequences – for example, choosing between two different foods can involve different textures, smells, and tastes.
This can be overwhelming for autistic people, who may have difficulty processing all of this information at once. Because of this, they may prefer not to make any choice.
If you have an autistic friend, it’s essential to respect their right to make their own choices.
Be Considerate When Planning To Go Out Together
When hanging out with your autistic friend, it’s essential to be considerate and understanding of their needs. There are a few steps you can keep in mind to ensure everyone has a good time.
Step One; Be Aware Of Sensory Sensitivities
First, be aware of your friend’s sensory sensitivities. Loud music, bright lights, and large crowds can be overwhelming for them. If possible, try to avoid these situations or give your friend a heads up before they happen.
Step Two; Respect Their Personal Space
Autistic people can often feel uncomfortable when someone gets too close to them or invades their personal space. You must give them the space they need and not take it personally if they need some time alone. It prevents them from feeling overwhelmed.
Step Three; Be Patient
Finally, be patient and understanding if your friend is having difficulty communicating. They may not be able to express themselves the way you do, but that doesn’t mean they don’t want to connect with you. If you’re patient and understanding, you’ll be able to have a great time together.
When talking to your autistic friend, it is essential to be as specific as possible. The majority of people with autism have difficulty reading social cues, so they may not be able to tell if they are joking or being serious.
This can lead to misunderstandings, so it is crucial to communicate clearly. To clarify, instead of saying “I’m hungry,” say “I would like a sandwich.” By explaining like this, you will help your friend understand what you want and avoid confusion. Similarly, avoid using sarcasm or making jokes that might be misinterpreted.
Instead, stick to factual statements and simple questions that are easy to understand. Taking these precautions helps to ensure that your conversations with your autistic friend are enjoyable and productive.
Be Understanding If They Want To Be Alone
It’s essential to be understanding if your friend with ASD wants to be alone. Your autistic friend may need some time to process the social interaction or may feel overwhelmed by the noise and bustle of a crowded room.
However, don’t take it personally if they don’t want to spend time with you. Once your autistic friend has some time to recharge, they’ll likely be more than happy to resume socializing.
Treat Them As An Equal
Despite the challenges associated with autism, it is essential to remember that those who suffer from the condition are not dumb and should be treated as equals.
One way to think of autism is as a different operating system for the brain. While neurotypical brains can process information linearly, autistic brains often take in and process information differently. This can lead to autistic people seeming disconnected from the world around them, but it doesn’t mean that they don’t understand what’s happening.
In fact, many autistic people are brilliant and just need to find their own way of understanding and interacting with the world. And to learn more about embracing autism, read How to Be a Friend to Someone with ASD.
For some, autism can be challenging because it makes everyday tasks more difficult. For others, autism brings with it unique gifts and talents.
Where ever your friend or a family member falls on the autism spectrum, some strategies can help them thrive. If you’re someone who struggles with anxiety, read our article on High Functioning Anxiety: What is it?.
Questions And Answers
What challenges do autistic people face in a neurotypical world?
People with ASD often have difficulty understanding social cues, engaging in back-and-forth conversation, and maintaining eye contact. They may also repetitively move their bodies or stare at objects for long periods of time.
What misconceptions about autism need to be cleared up?
One of the most harmful misconceptions about autism is that all autistic people are alike. This could not be further from the truth. Autism is a spectrum disorder, which means that there is a wide range of symptoms and abilities among people who are autistic. Some people with autism are nonverbal and require extensive support in all areas of their lives, while others may have very high intelligence and be able to live completely independent lives.
What is the biggest challenge for people with autism?
The biggest challenge for people with autism is integration into society. Autism is a developmental disability that manifests itself in difficulties with social interaction and communication, as well as repetitive behaviors. This can make it difficult for people with autism to navigate the social world, participate in school and work, and form relationships.