Autism is a disorder of behavioral and communicative disruption which is often misunderstood by the public. Those with no friend or family member with autism may be confused about what it is and how it affects people.
Contrary to countless movies and TV shows, people with autism live all kinds of lives and have all sorts of personalities.
One aspect of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) that creates so much confusion is in the name itself. Autism exists on a spectrum. That means various levels of severity and forms of the disorder can affect individual patients differently. With autism someone might fully function in society while another sufferer barely leaves the house. Cognitively, some with autism may be gifted while others have learning disabilities.
I have a close friend who acted as caretaker for his autistic cousin. His cousin abstained from most social functions and requested that my friend take him only to church and back home. His autism gave him an unwillingness to do other activities. Although he stuck to his routine the church community accepted him, providing social structure.
My childhood neighbor existed on another length of the spectrum. He was generally game to do anything with us. He played bass in our band, came out to see movies, and regularly went to/hosted parties. Sometimes, though, I would address him but get no response. Other times he’d speak his mind with no filter, potentially hurting someone’s feelings. We didn’t know it at the time – but had we been privy to his disorder there would surely have been less arguments.
Doctors agree the cause of autism is mostly genetic but some other factors like having older parents or a low birth weight seem to have some correlation. Anyone at any age can be diagnosed with autism but usually it is recognized in early childhood. Males have higher incidence of autism than females (although females can still have the disorder). As with many psychological disorders doctors look at behavior to diagnose.
There were – up until recently – 3 subtypes of autism: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not other specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome – but Asperger has been grouped in as a kind of general autistic disorder. They are unique to one another in certain ways but they all share developmental, communicative, and social disruptions.
Around the age of 2, parents and doctors might notice abnormal behaviors like not responding well to cuddling, inability to play make believe games, or reacting unusually to sense stimulation.
Older children or adults with autism might exhibit things like repetitive behaviors, extremely specific interests, trouble reading other’s emotions, or a strict adherence to routine. All of these symptoms may contribute to difficulty in social life.
There is no currently no cure for autism but treatments are available to ease symptoms and help sufferers to live fruitful lives. It’s important to begin treatment as early as possible. ASD diagnoses often occur in earlier stages of childhood, allowing skills to be developed at a young age which help patients to function as they mature.
While autism is a lifelong disorder, is does not have to cause lifelong suffering. Early treatment is best… but it’s really never too late to get help. We should remember that although someone is on the autism spectrum they can still lead a life of real potential and accomplishment.
Note: For assistance with behavioral health issues, contact us at 305-740-3340 or schedule an appointment with BregmanMD.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018, May) What is Autism Spectrum Disorder? Retrieved on April 19, 2019 from https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html
National Institute of Mental Health (2018, March) Autism Spectrum Disorder. Retrieved on April 20, 2019 from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/autism-spectrum-disorders-asd/index.shtml
Wikipedia contributors. (2019, April 26). Autism spectrum. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 18:00, April 27, 2019, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Autism_spectrum&oldid=894202685