Autism affects many people around the world, and for people with autism and Asperger syndrome, the world can appear chaotic with no clear boundaries, order or meaning. These disorders can vary from very mild, where the person can function as well as anyone else around them, to so severe that they are completely unable to take part in normal society.
World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is today Monday 2 April and aims to raise awareness of the disorder so people have a greater understanding of Autism. There are loads of ways you can show your support. From such ideas as a charity Rainbow walk, Easter Egg hunts, cake sales, coffee mornings, and awareness training days for parents. To get involved or for more information, please go to the World Autism Awareness Day website www.autism.org.uk
Here are three ideas in which you can help:
1. update your Facebook status to tell your friends you are supporting World Autism Awareness Day
2. raise awareness in your community by telling someone about your experience of autism
3. host your own fundraising event for the NAS or get involved in the WAAD Skydive.
Whatever you decide to do, however big or small, we'd love to hear about it here at Gurgle. com - so get in touch with us and we can list your event on this page.
What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder of the brain which affects the way a person interacts and communicates with others.
It originates from the way that neurons in the brain are connected in the early years. A child can be diagnosed with autism as young as three, and the warning signs may be there even earlier. Interestingly, almost four times more boys than girls are diagnosed with autism.
Causes of Autism
The exact causes of autism are unclear, although the condition is probably due to genetic or neurological factors. Research shows that almost 50 per cent of first-degree relatives of a person with Asperger's syndrome - one of the autism spectrum disorders not characterised by learning difficulties or language delay - have similar characteristics.
One theory is that some cases of autism could be caused by childhood vaccines, but this hasn't been proved as yet and requires more research. In fact many health professionals have disregarded this theory already. Read our feature on The MMR debate for more information on this topic.
The term 'Autistic Spectrum Disorders' encompasses the many varying degrees of autism, one of which is Asperger's syndrome. The number of people known to have autism has increased since the 1980s. About one in 110 people are classified as having an autism spectrum condition.
You cannot categorise all children with an autistic spectrum disorder into the same category; just as no two children are the same, neither are any two people with an autistic spectrum disorder the same. Autism is often accompanied by learning difficulties ranging from moderate to severe or profound but people with Asperger's syndrome who are at the more able end of the spectrum have average to above average intelligence. However, all people on the spectrum experience difficulties in terms of communicating and interacting with others as well as presenting an impairment of the imagination although they are affected in different ways and to differing degrees. Autism is sometimes accompanied by other conditions like ADHD, dyslexia or dyspraxia.
What are the most common symptoms of autism?
1) An inability to relate to other people and difficulty interacting with others. This can be manifested in a child's language skills; some children might echo words but use them in the wrong context.
2) A lack of imagination. Children might have narrow interests to the exclusion of other activities or difficulties in recognizing others' thoughts, desires and intentions.
3) A need for order and routine. Although all children need routine and stability, children with autism will have a greater need for structure than other children to help their difficulties in understanding the world around them.
4) Obsessive, repetitive behaviour.