Today is World Autism Awareness Day, which is an annual day to increase understanding of the Autism Spectrum Disorders, and to improve the acceptance of people with these types of diagnosis.
Autism is characterised by lifelong trouble with social communication and interactions, as well as repetitive and limited behaviours, interests, and activities. It is described as a “spectrum” because it is identifiable in a range of intensities and this affects how much support people need with the disorder.
Because Autism is about communication troubles and narrow interests, it is often difficult for people without Autism to understand those with the condition, and vice versa. This can be very isolating, frustrating, and frightening for both children and adults with the condition. Of course having Autism does not mean that you are less emotionally sensitive or less intelligent than anyone else, so people with the condition often become anxious and depressed because of the isolation and rejection they feel from others.
These additional problems can be addressed through psychotherapy, however a better solution is to help create an environment which accepts that people with Autism are part of the bigger picture of what it means to be human. This way we can all learn to appreciate the frustration and loneliness that may come with Autism, but even more importantly, we can create a better society by appreciating and incorporating skills and ideas that come with different minds and perspectives.
Research shows that early diagnosis and intervention is key in helping people Autism Spectrum Disorders thrive. By doing this, parents, teachers, and caregivers are able to tailor their approaches to support children in the way that best suits their needs, preferences, and abilities.
For those of you who are wondering about their toddlers, I have included a link to an Autism screening tool (M-CHAT-R) which is designed for use for children between 16 and 30 months (2 and half years). I stress that this is a guide only, but it may help you to decide whether it is worth speaking to your GP or psychologist for further assessment.