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Autism Pride Day

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition of brain development that impacts behavior, social interaction, and communication. It is categorized as a spectrum condition due to the fact that individuals are affected differently and to differing degrees and their needs can evolve over time.

According to WHO, Autism affects 1 in 100 children globally. Although certain characteristics can be spotted in children during early childhood, but the initial diagnosis is not made until much later. Children/people with autism usually have other illnesses co-existing together with the condition. That means Autism doesn’t affect an individual in isolation, quite a number of people experience epilepsy, depression as well as confronting problematic behaviors like self-harm and insomnia.

Autism is said to affect more boys than girls; for every girl affected, about four boys are affected and it’s a condition that can affect anyone regardless of their racial backgrounds.

A major problem that autistic people have is the ability to communicate.

  • They have difficulties in understanding things from other people’s perspective
  • They find is challenging to understand how people feel and think
  • They are unable to express themselves through verbal and non-verbal communication leading to their emotions being overlooked.

Causes

The exact cause of Autism hasn’t yet been discovered but is related to the brain being unable to process some sensory stimuli appropriately. A combination of both family history and environmental factors as opposed to its link to measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine as some people claim.

Signs and Symptoms

There are varying symptoms for different children and the following are some to look out for, but they are not limited to the ones listed:

  • Not making eye contact
  • A limited scope of interests or a strong passion for particular subjects
  • Repeating words or phrases, swaying back and forth, or fussing with things
  • High sensitivity to stimuli that other individuals would consider commonplace, such as sounds, sensations, scents, or sights
  • Ignoring or not paying attention to others
  • Averting your gaze while someone else gestures at them
  • Refusing to be hugged or held
  • Difficulties with speaking, gestures, facial expressions, or voice intonation
  • Using a robotic, flat, or sing-song voice when speaking
  • Having difficulty adjusting to routine shifts

Health Strategies for Autistic Persons

Here are some healthy habits people with autism aside from medication and behavioral treatment and they include:

  • Develop healthy food choices: People with autism tend to have heightened sensitivity to tastes of different foods, so instead of choosing junk or items that could be detrimental to their health; they could opt for ones that contain more of fruits and vegetables.
  • Making exercise part of their routine: You don’t need to go to the gym to keep your body active. Simple exercises like taking a walk, jogging and swimming could go a very long way.
  • Scheduling sleep: This would help in cultivating healthy sleep habits to counter insomnia which could make symptoms worse.
  • Encourage them to communicate their feelings: Although communication is one of the major difficulties of autistic people, but they need to be encouraged to talk about how they feel or develop strategies in expressing this so that family and friends can know how best to help them.
  • Engage in calming activities: These range from listening to music to deep breathing exercises to meditation or journaling to help them cope with periods of anxiety.

Remember ignorance is no longer bliss; staying informed is being in control of your health and regardless of your health conditions, there are numerous strategies that can be used to promote health.

You may not need the information, but you may know someone it could be helpful to, so be your neighbor’s keeper.

Autistic people are normal individuals like every one of us but with unique set of behaviors, modes of interaction and different perspectives to life, so they need to be embraced and not discriminated.

Autistic people matter.

Autistic people aren’t strange or deranged sets of individuals.

Let’s help them embrace their uniqueness.

Written By:
Rebecca Adeleke-Adesanmi, BSc. Nur., MA, Healthcare Mgt.
Health & Wellness Advocate.

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