Autism Awareness

Autism Awareness

The following is a public service announcement that was shared with various local churches during the month of April for Autism Awareness month.

The prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) is rising at an alarming rate with the current figure reported as 1 in 68 (Center for Disease Control, 2014). Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause substantial impairments in social interaction and communication and may also include the presence of unusual behaviors and interests. Many people with ASD also may have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, and reacting to different sensations. The thinking and learning abilities of people with ASD can vary – from gifted to severely challenged. ASD begins before the age of 3 and lasts throughout a person’s life. The cost to treat a single individual diagnosed with autism, on average is 2.3 million dollars over a lifetime (Autism Speaks, 2012).

Possible Indicators

Your child may exhibit the following:

  • Does not babble, point, or make meaningful gestures by 1 year of age.
  • Does not speak one word by 16 months
  • Does not combine two words by 2 years
  • Does not respond to name
  • Loses language or social skills

Other indicators may include:

  • Poor eye contact
  • Doesn’t seem to know how to play with toys
  • Excessively lines up toys or other objects
  • Is attached to one particular toy or object
  • Doesn’t smile
  • At times seems to be hearing impaired

What Kinds of Communication and Social Problems Occur in People with Autism?

Children and adults with autism have different types of communication and social abilities. These are some of the problems that often occur:

Communication:

  • Delayed language
  • Not speaking or very limited speech
  • Difficulty expressing basic wants and needs
  • Limited communication to share interests with another person
  • Poor vocabulary development
  • Problems following directions or finding objects that are named
  • Repeating what is said (echolalia)
  • Problems answering questions
  • Speech that sounds different (“robotic” speech or speech hat is high pitched)
  • Problems with conversation skills, such as taking turns to talk
  • Difficulty understanding nonverbal communication, such as gestures and facial expressions
  • Incorrect use of pronouns (he, she, they, it, me, mine, yours)

Social Interaction

  • Inappropriate eye contact with people or objects
  • Not paying attention to things seen or heard
  • Becoming overly focused on certain topics or objects that interest them
  • Poor play skills
  • Difficulty making friends
  • Dislike being touched or held
  • Crying, becoming angry, giggling, or laughing for no known reason or at the wrong time

Reacting to Their World

  • Rocking, hand flapping, spinning, or other movements (self-stimulating movements)
  • Problems dealing with changes in routine
  • Being very sensitive or not sensitive enough to touch, light, or sounds
  • Using objects in unusual ways
  • Unusual attachments to objects
  • No fear of real dangers
  • Feeding difficulties (Accepting only select foods, refusing certain food textures)

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