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World Autism Awareness Day

The 12th annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2019. “Joined by the international community, hundreds of thousands of landmarks, buildings, homes and communities around the world, light blue in recognition of people living with autism. Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month to increase understanding and acceptance and foster worldwide support”. Autism Speaks was founded in 2005 and is responsible for raising millions of dollars towards research, grants and scholarships and collaborates closely with medical centers to help provide cutting-edge clinical care and education to patients and their families. Autism Speaks also provides free information and resources to anyone in the autism community in order to raise awareness about this childhood pervasive disorder.

Autism is a childhood pervasive disorder that results in abnormal social interactions, poor communication skills and restricted repetitive behaviors, interests and activities. This disorder of childhood can be seen as a sensory disorder as many children prefer to play with only type of toy or are accustomed to only one type of sound. Parents of children with autism report unusual responses to environmental stimuli, including excessive reaction or an unexpected lack of reaction to sensory input. Certain sounds such as vacuum cleaners or motorcycles may elicit incessant screaming. Playing a radio, stereo, or television at a loud level may appear to produce hyperacusis, a condition in which ordinary sounds produce excessive auditory stimulation of a painful magnitude. Sometimes parents must rearrange the family routine so that the child is absent during noisy housekeeping activities. Children with autistic disorder may also display exaggerated responses or rage to everyday sensory stimuli, such as bright lights or even touching. This sensory overload could be one of the reasons why these children prefer to play by themselves and have restricted repetitive behaviors such as building with the same blocks over and over again.

Facts and Statistics

  • Autism spectrum disorder is one of the most common childhood developmental disabilities.
  • Autistic disorder or related conditions were found to affect 1 in 68 children aged 8 years living in 11 communities monitored by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
  • About 1 percent of the world population has autism spectrum disorder.
  • 35 percent of young adults (ages 19-23) with autism have not had a job or received postgraduate education after leaving high school.
  • It costs more than $8,600 extra per year to educate a student with autism.
  • Autism services cost U.S. citizens $236-262 billion annually.

Autistic disorder is most common in boys who have the 46,XY karyotype (the normal male karyotype).

Risk factors

  • Obstetric complications
  • Exposure to infections during pregnancy, particularly rubella
  • Advanced paternal age
  • Genetics

Signs and Symptoms

  • Developmental regression
  • Absence of protodeclarative pointing
  • Abnormal reactions to environmental stimuli
  • Abnormal social interactions
  • Absence of smiling when greeted by parents and other familiar people
  • Absence of typical responses to pain and physical injury
  • Language delays and deviations
  • Susceptibility to infections and febrile illnesses
  • Absence of symbolic play
  • Repetitive and stereotyped behavior

Treatment

  • Individual intensive interventions, including behavioral, educational, and psychological components, are the most effective treatments of autistic disorder. Beginning the treatment early in infancy increases the likelihood of a favorable outcome.
  • No pharmacologic agent is effective in the treatment of the core behavioral manifestations of autistic disorder, but drugs may be effective in treating associated behavioral problems and comorbid disorders.
  • Assisted communication: Using keyboards, letter boards, word boards, and other devices (the Picture Exchange Communication System), with the assistance of a therapist
  • Auditory integration training: A procedure in which the individual listens to specially prepared sounds through headphones
  • Sensory integration therapy: A treatment for motor and sensory motor problems typically administered by occupational therapists
  • Exercise and physical therapy: Exercise is often therapeutic for individuals with autistic disorder; a regular program of activity prescribed by a physical therapist may be helpful

 

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