April is here, and it’s exciting to know that Spring has begun! Time to think about planting flowers and the end of the school year. April is also World Autism Month. Its purpose: to shine an international spotlight to help increase understanding of autism.
What is Autism?
There is no one definition or characteristic of autism. Autism is a group of neuro-development disorders. It has a broad range of conditions, strengths, and challenges. Autism is usually characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, and communication. There may be sensory issues (such as hyper-sensitivity to sound or touch). There can also be medical issues (such as seizures, sleep disorders, anxiety). These conditions affect the way someone with autism learns, thinks and problem-solves. Dr. Stephen Shore, who has autism, says “If you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism.” There is no one size fits all.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides some interesting statistics. Among other things, the CDC estimates that autism:
- Affects 1 in 59 children in the United States;
- Is more common in boys than in girls; and
- Occurs in all racial, ethnic and socioeconomic groups.
From birth to 5 years, a child’s developmental growth follows a pattern. How he/she plays, learns, speaks, acts, and moves are natural signs of progress that parents can measure. The presence of autism usually appears by age 2 or 3, and is sometimes diagnosed as early as 18 months. The CDC has a wonderful website called “Learn the Signs. Act Early.” The site has lots of information to help track these developmental milestones. It also has information about concerns with your child’s developmental timeline. Early intervention and support is essential for the most positive outcomes.
All About People
But autism is not all about a diagnosis or a statistic. It’s all about people! People with autism (or autistic people, depending on language preference). People living with someone with autism. People in love with someone with autism. Interested in discovering more? I was hoping you would ask! There are some valuable sources of information for everyone who would like to learn more. Gain compelling perspectives on language/identity preferences. Consider opinions on the familiar puzzle piece that is a common symbol for autism, as well as the neurodiversity rainbow infinity symbol. Very engaging, and definitely eye-opening!
Here is only a small sample that I found particularly interesting: