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World Autism Awareness Day 2015: Characteristics of Autism

displaymediaWorld Autism Awareness Day takes place every year on April 2nd. The aim of the day is to spread awareness about a neurological disorder called autism. The resolution for World Awareness Day was adopted by the UN in December 2007, and since then countries across the globe have been highlighting the importance of understanding autism.

Did you know that according to the National Autistic Society, Autism is the world’s third most common development disorder? One in every 100 people suffers from autism in the UK and around one in every 68 children in America, but those figures are nothing compared to India: close to 15 million people suffer from autism at present. It’s when we realize that so many people suffer from autism across the world that days like World Autism Awareness Day become so important.

The CN Tower lit up blue last year for World Autism Awareness Day

The CN Tower was lit up blue last year for World Autism Awareness Day

What is autism?

Autism Speaks describes autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism as “a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.

ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.”

The most obvious signs of autism tend to emerge between two and three years of ages, highlighting that autism has roots in early brain development.

Characteristics

When we first started researching and trying to understand autism, one of the most important things that we discovered is the fact that every autistic person is different and they have their own idiosyncratic characteristics.

This means that a child’s senses and development of skills are not in sync, this may lead to a situation where a child may have developed cognitive skills while language, social or motor skills may lag behind, for example. Some children become sensitive to noise, light or smell while others may find social interaction challenging. These are some of the not-so-subtle signs that all parents needs to look out for.

People with autism often suffer from restricted behaviour and establish an affinity towards routine and find it difficult to accept change.

An autistic child may show signs of finding it difficult to make sense of the world around them and communicating their feelings. This includes establishing relationships with people, being able to express themselves, understanding metaphors or associating symbols with language.

We have briefly described autism and some of the systems to look out for, so it’s definitely worth doing your research to find out more. Even if you don’t know anyone who suffers from autism, spreading the word about the disorder can only better our communities.

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