Below are some of the most helpful insights about Autism that you can share with your friends and family members to help spread awareness about this disability.
Myths about Autism
The lack of fundamental tests that would measure the Intelligence and many other attitudes of persons with Autism makes it difficult for normal people to understand those that are afflicted with the disorder. This obstacle of connecting with autistic individuals gave rise to many myths that put people with autism in a bad light. Some of these myths that seem to persist even today are the following:
- Autistic people are persons incapable of loving others. This is absolutely a misunderstanding on how autistic individuals behave because they can love someone as much as a normal person would do. It’s just that they find it hard to express their love on any verbal or non-verbal way because their faculties are impaired.
- Autistic people don’t have emotions and can’t empathize. Individuals with autism find it hard to communicate their feelings to others, but it doesn’t mean they don’t feel anything at all. In the same way, because interpersonal communication is one of their weakest areas, autistic persons may not easily get the feeling that people around them would want them to perceive unless it is directly communicated and in a clear and proper way.
- Autistic people have no creativity and imagination. High functioning types of autism often result to people excelling in certain fields of knowledge who may even possess world-class talents. This discrimination against persons with this disorder is without proof and just a product of ignorance.
- Autistic people will remain autistic for the rest of their life. This isn’t the case for children who have received intensive early intervention services on the diagnosis of autism. There are those who have shown great improvement, enough to live a normal life of their own.
- Persons displaying signs of autism disorder can outgrow the oddity. Conversely, one cannot just simply tell that a person will be free from autism and its symptoms over time. Depending on the diagnosis of autism a person is suffering from, and the medical treatment the person is receiving, the difficulty of dealing with the symptoms can also differ.
- Mothers lacking emotional warmth cause autism on their child. Called as the “Refrigerator Mother Theory”, this claim has long been discarded by many experts. Although such lack of empathy can contribute to the worsening state of their child’s condition, this isn’t proof enough that such inadequacy can lead to autism.
- Cases of autism have increased at a steady rate over the past 40 years or so. In contrast, the increase in autism’s prevalence worldwide has risen on a rather more drastic manner. In the last 20 years alone, the rate of increase has gone up to 600%. As a comparison, data taken from the year 1975 show that 1 in every 1,500 people has autism. But in 2014, one person in every 68 people has the same disorder which proves that the rate of increase is relatively above than steady.
- US healthcare insurance covers autism treatment. Only half of the whole 50 states require insurance to cover treatments for autism and many insurance companies don’t directly include treatment of Autism Disorder Spectrum as part of their plan coverage.
Autism and its Root Cause
The real cause of Autism is still undetermined. Even today, with the advancement in Medical Research, there are only the known variables that could increase the risk of developing Autism. These factors, both genetic and environmental, are still being included in many ongoing studies in order to determine the root cause of Autism. These factors or correlations expose the greater risk of having Autism in boys than girls, as well as on a family that already has a history of Autism. It is also discovered that pregnant women who are taking certain drugs and old parents also increase the chances of having an autistic child as a result.
The Good Side of Autism
Autistic individuals have a high possibility of manifesting aptness in certain fields of knowledge as well as other positive characteristics which highlight the good side of Autism compared to the challenges that come with it. The intellectual prowess of many autistic persons range from average to high and can excel in many areas of knowledge including but not limited to arts, music, mathematics, engineering and technology.
Treatment Versus Cure
Autism as a spectrum disorder has a variety of known treatments which mostly cover therapeutic approaches rather than medical ones (which is very rarely used). These treatments include speech, developmental, occupational and behavioural therapy. The overall results of these treatments are highly positive, but these do not absolutely eradicate the disorder from a person’s life. It is because these treatments are preventive in nature and the cure is still being researched by specialists up until today.
The Difficulties of Autism
One cannot simply single out a certain type of autistic handicap as easily manageable. The truth is that all forms of autism are challenging to a certain extent, and everyone is encouraged to face these challenges with affection and clear understanding of the patient’s condition. The most difficult levels of autism are those that are manifested by very poor communication skills and behavioural issues. But even autistic persons that have high cognitive abilities can also develop certain mental issues like depression and anxiety, accompanied by sensory dysfunction and behaviours that are obsessive in nature.
AUTISM AS A MEDICAL TERM AND ITS TRANSFORMATION
The term Autism was first coined in the 1930’s to describe a characteristic disorder. While the term is still being used today, the perception about the disability has greatly changed over the years due to the advancement in medical research and discoveries. For instance, the development disorder known as Asperger Syndrome has been included as one of the many forms of autism in 1994.
Ever since autism was clinically termed as a type of disorder, the number of people associated with it has rapidly risen over the years. This is mostly caused by the changing medical perception about autism following a variety of medical discoveries. From the year 1994 until May of 2013, autism remained to be defined as a spectrum disorder with 5 known diagnoses, having Asperger Syndrome at the “milder” end of the spectrum, and Autistic Disorder on the “severe” end. In between these two diagnoses are a range of pervasive developmental disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, and PDD-NOS. After the Diagnostic Manual Version, 5 (DSM-5) has been issued in 2013, the diagnosis of autism has been changed to only one category, know as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) with three functional levels known as high, moderately severe, and severe.
This change in the spectrum has resulted in people with Asperger Syndrome losing that label and be categorized appropriately with other indicators. However, since this disorder has been used so many times already, people still associate themselves as those having AS even though they are now categorized differently. This is just one of the many effects of the changes on autism’s definition that need to be addressed.