Autistic & Thriving: What You Should Know About Austism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is one of the most misunderstood disorders in the world. If you don’t know someone who is struggling with it, you probably have no clue what it is about. It can be frustrating when people have misconceptions, are judgmental, or offer unsolicited advice.
It is important to note that although ASD is a lifelong condition that can be challenging, with the right education, therapy, love, and care, autistic children are able to lead a great life as we have seen with Albert Einstein (Scientist and Mathematician), Anthony Hopkins (Actor), Elon Musk (Entrepreneur), Bill Gates (Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation), Nikola Tesla (Inventor), Jerry Seinfeld (Comedian), and so on. To celebrate World Autism Month this April, here is all you need to know about Autism Spectrum Disorder.
What is Autism?
ASD refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication.
Autism is called a spectrum disorder precisely because it is characterized by a broad range of symptoms and abilities. People with autism can be high-functioning, low-functioning, or somewhere in-between. They can be highly intelligent and verbal, or cognitively challenged and nonverbal. The most significant shared symptom among people with ASD is difficulty with social communication, such as making eye contact, conversing, or understanding another’s perspective.
Is There A Cure?
There is no known cure for autism, nor do people “outgrow” it. Autism is a lifelong diagnosis. Intensive early intervention may reduce ASD symptoms, and many effective treatments address the sensory, behavioural, developmental, and medical symptoms of ASD. Depending upon the child, certain treatments will be more successful than others. People with autism can also learn coping skills to help them manage their difficulties and even build on their unique strengths.
What Causes It?
No one knows exactly what causes autism. Researchers believe it may be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Pregnancy complications and parental age may also increase the risk.
The notion that vaccines or “bad parenting” cause autism has been widely debunked by the medical community.
Is There An Autism School In Nigeria?
You may have heard of a wonderful “autism school,” or read of a child doing amazingly well in a particular type of classroom setting. While a given setting may be perfect for a particular child, every child with ASD has unique needs. Decisions about the best type of education for a child with autism are generally made together by parents, teachers, administrators, and therapists who know the child well. There are several schools for children living with ASD in Nigeria. Special needs schools such as Patrick Speech and Languages Centre (Ikeja GRA, Lagos), Anthos House (Lekki Penninsula II, Lagos), Helping Hands Centre (Festac, Lagos), C.A.D.E.T. Academy (Asokoro, Abuja), to name a few.
Do People With Autism Have Feelings And Emotions?
People with autism are capable of feeling and expressing love, though some do so in idiosyncratic ways. Most are also able to have close relationships, including romantic relationships.
A person with ASD may need help developing empathy because they may not be able to interpret what other people are feeling based on their body language. Downcast eyes or a turned back, for example, don’t necessarily signal “sadness” or “anger” to a person with autism. However, if someone explains that another person is feeling sad or hurt, a person with ASD can respond with true empathy.
Families Dealing With Autism Need Help And Support
It can be hard to ask others for support, especially if they misunderstand the nature of autism. Therefore, one of the most important things to convey to family and friends is that having an autistic child can be hard.
Even high-functioning autism can be challenging—for the person diagnosed with it as well as their family. For a family affected by severe autism, daily life can be overwhelming. If you’re feeling stressed, you need all the non-judgmental help you can get from friends, extended family, and service providers.