According to the United Nations, “The COVID-19 has exposed and highlighted the inequalities around the world, especially when it comes to health and wealth distribution, access to health care, protection under the law, and political inclusion. Individuals suffering from autism have faced many of these difficulties and inequalities which have only been further aggravated by the pandemic.” So today with the help of this article I am going to shed some light on the topic of autism spectrum disorder that is most commonly nescience by society.
The United Nations (UN) general assembly has declared 2nd April as World autism awareness day just to spread awareness about people suffering from autism spectrum disorder throughout the world. This day was passed on 1 November 2007 by the council and adopted on 18th December 2007. This resolution was passed by Mozah Bint Nasser Al-Missned, the United Nations Representative of Qatar, and followed by all the members of UN states.
As marked by the United Nations (UN), World autism awareness day is one of 7 official health-specific days. This day of awareness brings people from all over the world to aid in things like research, consequences, diagnoses, and treatment for those who are affected by the autism disorder. Since 2012, the UN has had a theme for the world autism awareness day every year and this year, the theme was ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World’.
As tweeted by the United Nations, “Pandemic recovery is an opportunity to rethink our systems to ensure that people with autism can realize their full potential.” About 1 in every 100 children in India under the age of 10 have ASD. Reports suggest that 1 in 50 school-aged children had parent-reported ASD in 2011-2012, which was a doubling of the prevalence in the last five years. If one twin has ASD then there is a 90% chance that the other twin will also have ASD. In families with one case of ASD, there is a risk of 5% of having another child as well.
What is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?
Autism spectrum disorder is a disorder that describes significant social, communicative, and behavioral challenges. It is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by severe impairment in thinking, feeling, verbal and non-verbal communication. In this condition, the individual perceives difficulty in social interactions, difficulties in understanding gestures and facial expression, failure to hold back and forth communication, and problems in emotional interactions. People with autism suffer from learning disabilities, dyspraxia, depression, sleep problem, no responding, prefer to play alone, and epilepsy. The symbol of autism is the puzzle ribbon or awareness ribbon. This rainbow-colored infinity symbol indicates the diversity of the autism spectrum including the greater neurodiversity movement.
WHO resolution on the autism spectrum disorder
In May 2014, the 67th world health assembly adopted a resolution entitled, “Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorder (ASD),” supported by a large number of countries. The resolution persuades WHO to collaborate with partner agencies and member states to address ASD and its awareness throughout the world. WHO and partners acknowledge the need to strengthen countries and to promote the well-being of the individual with autism.
Following are the efforts taken by WHO to promote autism spectrum disorder:
• Providing proper guidance on policies that address autism within the framework of mental health and disabilities.
• Contributing to providing appropriate and effective care for patients suffering from ASD.
• Promoting comprehensive environments for people suffering from ASD and other disabilities.
What are the signs and symptoms of ASD?
It is noticed that autism spectrum disorder usually begins in early childhood causing difficulty in socializing at school or the workplace. Symptoms of the disorder are often experienced at the first year of age. However, children with an autism spectrum disorder might experience the following symptoms:
• Have trouble in analyzing the objects
• Have difficulty in learning and lose language skills
• Has poor eye contact and lacks facial expression
• Repeats words or phrases, but doesn’t understand how to use them in conversation
• Doesn’t express emotions and feelings
• Involved in self-harm activities like hitting and biting
• Repeat movements and actions over and over again
• Avoid playing games
• Have trouble in coordination such as grabbing objects, walking on toes, and clumsiness
As they are getting older, some children show disturbances in their actions and behavior. Having a family with ASD while others with the least severe issue may involve in normal activities. However, children with the most severe continue to have difficulty with emotional problems and social skills.
What causes autism spectrum disorder (ASD)?
According to the research, it is found that there is no clear-cut cause of ASD. However, both genetics and environmental factors likely play a role in autism spectrum disorder. Many factors that make a child more likely to have ASD, they are as follows:
Ø Genes are one of the risk factors of having ASD
Ø Premature birth might also be the reason for ASD
Ø Children born to older parents are more likely to have this disorder
Ø Having a twin sibling with ASD is one of the risks factors that can cause this problem
Ø One case of ASD is more likely to develop these disorders such as down syndrome, Rett syndrome, and fragile syndrome.
How is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) diagnosed?
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental disorder that affects both communicational and behavioral changes. There are no specific laboratory tests to analyze ASD but we can diagnose it by certain health care providers like physicians, social counselors, pathologists, and psychologists. However, doctors diagnose the disorder by looking at the patient’s behavior. In 2013, an updated version of the diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorder (DSM) was released. This updated version changes the classification of autism to be diagnosed. However, in the current updated version of DS, the DSM-5 is being introduced that helps patients who were previously diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome would now be diagnosed as an autism spectrum disorder. Following are the ways of diagnosis that can be done according to their age groups:
Diagnosis in children is a two-stage process
1. General development screening during checkups
2. Additional evaluation
Diagnosis in adolescents includes
1. Specialized doctors of ASD
2. A speech-language pathologist
Diagnosis in adults comprises of
1. Neuropsychologist and psychiatrist
2. Specialized psychologist
How is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) can be treated?
ASD is a complex issue and it is affecting the lives of many children. While there is no specific cure but early treatment can make a huge difference. Therapies and behavioral interventions are the first steps towards the treatment of ASD. These therapies are designed to control the specific symptoms and can improve the condition of the patient. After diagnosis, early treatment should begin as soon as possible for the cure of autism spectrum disorder. A doctor will always recommend you the right treatment and will guide you to control the symptoms like aggression, hyperactivity, anxiety, repetitive behavior, and depression. So it is advisable to be in contact with your doctor. Also, specialized psychologists, neuropsychologists, and psychiatrists are the helping hands for patients with an autism spectrum disorder.
Today, autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is considered a major public health threat and a topic of much awareness. Patients with ASD have difficulty in every aspect of their life. But they do deserve all the help and support. There is a growing awareness and acceptance of ASD with many campaigns and support groups. People with autism are different from others but not worse, as ‘they miss what others catch, but catch what others miss". In this busy world let's light up with a calm feeling for not differentiating people but for improving the differentiation between people with autism.
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