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Autism Awareness

Apr 02nd, 2019 | by Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC
Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

Lisa Murphy OTD, OTR/L, SWC

April 02nd, 2019

April is Autism Awareness Month!

In honor of Autism Awareness Month, this blog aims to educate and spread awareness about our friends on the spectrum. We also encourage you to read “What I’ve Learned From Working with Autistic Children” by NAPA pediatric therapist, Allyson Bates, OTD, OTR/L. SWC, PAM.

What You Should Know About World Autism Month

Various campaigns such as Autism Speaks “Light it Up Blue” and the Autism Society’s “Put on a Puzzle” aim to increase inclusivity and acceptance of individuals with autism. World Autism Awareness Month is a platform to create change; a stage to support a shift in thinking to create acceptance and inclusivity.  Every individual with autism is a unique being with their own strengths and challenges. Let’s take this time to learn more about autism so that we are open, willing, and able to communicate strategies to make our communities more welcoming for everyone.   

What is Autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills and communications skills, as well as engagement in repetitive behaviors. Autism and ASD are general terms for a wide range of brain development disorders characterized by social impairments, communication difficulties, and repetitive behaviors. While statistics vary slightly, approximately 1 in 59 children in the United States is affected with autism.  The cause of autism is yet unknown, however researchers believe both environmental and genetic factors may contribute to an individual being diagnosed with ASD. Symptoms of autism may include, but is not limited to:

  • Picky or fussing eating
  • Delayed or lack of speech
  • Decreased eye contact
  • Engagement in repetitive motor movements (ie hand flapping, twirling objects)
  • Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play

Therapy Options for Autism

Experts agree, access to early intervention is imperative for individuals with ASD.  Early intervention may include but is not limited to one or a combination of the following interventions:

  • Behavioral therapy to address repetitive behaviors that may interfere with daily life
  • Occupational therapy to address underlying sensory needs contributing to a child’s dysfunction
  • Physical therapy to address delays in gross motor skills
  • Speech therapy to address difficulties with both verbal and non-verbal communication
  • Early intervention school programs provide opportunity for structure, language models and facilitated peer interactions.  

Four Easy Ways for you to Get Involved!

  1. Participate in a Walk for Autism 
  2. Learn and share information about autism safety – be AWARE!
  3. Share more information about Autism and AAC
  4. Stay up to date with autism research

Autism Awareness Facts

ASD is almost 5 times more prevalent in boys with about 1 in 42 boys diagnosed compared to about 1 in 189 girls.

Wondering if your child is affected by ASD? Here is a list of red flags that may indicate that your child is at risk:
– No big smiles or other warm, happy expressions by 6 months or thereafter
– No back-and-forth sharing of sounds or facial expressions by 9 months
– No babbling by 12 months
– No back-and-forth gestures like waving, pointing, etc. by 12 months
– No words by 16 months
– No meaningful, 2-word phrases (not including repeating) by 24 months
– Any loss of speech, babbling, or social skills at any age

Autism Awareness Infographics

Here are easy to read infographics describing the basic facts about Autism and ASD:

Autism Awareness Infographic Signs of Autism Infographic
Resources:
  • autismspeaks.org/what-autism
  • a-health-blog.com/the-abcs-of-autism-infographic.html
  • cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/data.html
  • ninds.nih.gov/disorders/autism/detail_autism.htm
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