Monday 17 May 2010

Autism basic facts

Hi, have been meaning to blog for a while but mega busy due to a big girl's birthday this month! Have one blog in mind for future days ('Rice Krispies and water' - bet you're intrigued now ;) ) but for now I'd just like to post some 'top facts' about autism which another mum I've met recently sent to me as a good starting point to try and raise awareness.

Parents of children with autism quickly discover the top autism facts. But what about in-laws, teachers, friends, cousins etc? Few people outside the immediate family really want to read pages and pages of in depth information. Here I have tried to present some basics for a quick read. These are not all my own words but words I have picked from many different places but I believe they are words that help raise awareness. Please feel free to add to it, send it on to as many people as possible, change it etc. Thank you!!

What do these people have in common?

Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Michael Jackson, Woody Allen, Mozart, Bethoven, Gary Numan, Dan Akroyd, George Orwell, Bill Gates, Michael Palin, Alfred Hitchcock, Isaac Newton, Jane Austin, Hans Christian Anderson, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson and Michelangelo di Lodovico.

They are all believed to be or have been (as some are dead) on the Autistic Spectrum.

Autism Is a 'Spectrum' Disorder

People with autism can be a little autistic or very autistic. Thus, it is possible to be bright, verbal and autistic as well as locked in their own world, non-verbal and autistic. The most significant shared symptom is difficulty with social communication (eye contact, conversation, taking another's perspective, etc.).

Asperger Syndrome is a High Functioning Form of Autism

Asperger Syndrome (AS) is considered to be a part of the autism spectrum. The only significant difference between AS and High Functioning Autism is that people with AS usually develop speech right on time while people with autism usually have speech delays. People with AS are generally very bright and verbal, but have significant social deficits (which is why AS has earned the nickname "Geek Syndrome").

People With Autism Are Different from One Another

If you've seen Rainman or a TV show about autism, you may think you know what autism "looks like." In fact, when you've met one person with autism you've met ONE person with autism. Some people with autism are chatty; others are silent. Many have sensory issues, gastrointestinal problems, sleep difficulties and other medical problems. Others may have social-communication delays - and that's it.

There Are Dozens of Treatments for Autism - But No 'Cure'
There Are Many Theories on the Cause of Autism, But No Consensus.
At present, most researchers think autism is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors - and it's quite possible that different people's symptoms have different causes.

People Don't Grow Out of Autism

Autism is a lifelong diagnosis. For some people, often (but not always) those who receive intensive early intervention, symptoms may decrease radically. People with autism can also learn coping skills to help them manage their difficulties and even build on their unique strengths. But people with autism will be autistic throughout their lives.

Families Coping with Autism Need Help and Support

Even "high functioning" autism is challenging for parents. "Low functioning" autism can be overwhelming to the entire family. Families may be under a great deal of stress, and they need all the non-judgemental help they can get from friends, extended family, and service providers. Respite care (someone else taking care of the person with autism while other family members take a break) can be a marriage and/or family-saver!

There Are Many Unfounded Myths About Autism

The media is full of stories about autism, and many of those stories are less than accurate. For example, you may have heard that people with autism are cold and unfeeling, or that people with autism never marry or hold productive jobs. Since every person with autism is different, however, such "always" and "never" statements simply don't hold water. To understand a person with autism, it's a good idea to spend some time getting to know him or her - personally!  

Autistic People Have Many Strengths and Abilities

It may seem that autism is a wholly negative diagnosis. But almost everyone on the autism spectrum has a great to deal to offer the world. People with autism are among the most forthright, non-judgemental, passionate people you'll ever meet. They are also ideal candidates for many types of careers.

Autism has nothing whatsoever to do with the way parents bring up their children

Children and adults on the autistic spectrum are funny, quirky, frustrating and unique. With 1 in 110 children now being diagnosed there is an excellent chance we will all be touched personally by autism in our lifetimes. Hopefully with raised awareness of this issue we will have more understanding of people with autism as well as the effect it has on a family. I would like to think that when people witness a child having a meltdown in public they will be compassionate rather than judgemental.

Sasha is still very young and has a lot of developing to do of course like any child of her age, so we have no idea what her characteristics are going to be. At the moment we can say she is loving and lovable, doesn’t really seem to have an issue with affection or eye contact for example, but does struggle to focus on activities or take direction from others (i.e. she likes to do just what she wants to do – like many toddlers!). She has delayed speech and limited understanding of some concepts, such as time, but is intelligent – she could count to 10 in both English and Spanish at a very young age, and knows when she is asking for chocolate when she shouldn’t be! That’s just a snapshot of course :)