World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD) is commemorated on 2nd April of every year. The day was finalised by a resolution passed by the United General Assembly. The day aims to spread awareness among the member states of the United Nations (UN) across the world about the medical condition. Autism Awareness Day also seeks to remove the widespread stigma associated with it and also invests towards assisting people diagnosed with this condition.
Autism Awareness Day History & Significance
World Autism Awareness Day was finalised by a resolution passed by the United General Assembly. The resolution finalised 2nd April of every year as WAAD.
The term “autism” was used for the first time by psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler in 1911. It indicated a bunch of symptoms that had resemblance to the simple signs of schizophrenia. It wasn’t before 1943 that psychiatrist Dr Leo Kanner identified autism as an emotional and social disorder.
The immense stigma associated with autism has led to people neglecting those born with the disorder and not accepting them as a part of mainstream society. The objective of Autism Awareness Day is to raise awareness about the medical condition and garner support for the people born with it, making society more inclusive for such people.
7 World Autism Awareness Day Facts
On Autism Awareness Day, here are some facts that you should be aware of:
- In 2018, every 1 out of 59 children was diagnosed with autism.
- According to the UN, autism has been growing rapidly and is more common than childhood cancer, AIDS, and diabetes combined.
- There is no cure for the disorder yet.
- The disorder can be diagnosed at a young age of 2 years.
- The earlier the disorder is detected, the better are the chances of supporting the wellbeing of people diagnosed with autism.
- Persistent sleep disorders and gastrointestinal disorders are more common in children with this disorder as compared to the others.
- In India, there are 7,862,921 children and adults below the age of 19, out of which 5,95,089 have an intellectual disability have been found to have intellectual disabilities.
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)?
According to the UN, autism is defined as a “lifelong neurological condition” that develops during the early stages of childhood. Also referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder, the disorder constitutes a diverse group of conditions related to brain development, as defined by World Health Organization (WHO). To explain World Autism Awareness Day meaning, it is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is accompanied by deficits in language and social communication, along with restrictive interests and repetitive behaviours.
People with autism spectrum disorder may have a wide range of disabilities, which widely vary among those with the disorder. Some have verbal disabilities while some others have limited or delayed verbal communication. Some have challenges with their cognitive thinking skills, while it may not be the same case with the others. This is the synopsis of World Autism Awareness Day meaning.
8 Possible Causes Of Autism
Ongoing research does not demonstrate a single cause behind autism. Hence, the exact reason remains yet to be discovered. Some expected causes and risk factors are as below:
- Genetic history
- Exposure to heavy metals and environmental toxins
- A maternal history of viral infections
- Fragile X syndrome and other genetic disorders
- Low birth weight
- Being born to older parents
- Metabolic imbalances
- Foetal exposure to the medications valproic acid or thalidomide (Thalomid)
2 Signs & Symptoms Of ASD
The symptoms of autism become apparent during early childhood between ages 12 and 24 months. However, the signs may manifest themselves earlier or later. The early symptoms are generally marked with delayed social or language development.
An individual has to experience symptoms in both the below categories to be diagnosed with autism.
- Difficulty with social communication and interaction
- Repetitive and restricted patterns
12 Treatment Options For Autism Spectrum Disorder
There are no cures for ASD. The symptoms can be kept under control through supportive therapies and other treatments.
The treatments are as below:
- Behavioural therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Play therapy
- Speech therapy
- Physical therapy
- Meditation techniques
- Weighted clothing and blankets
There are also alternative remedies that the healthcare expert may recommend:
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- High-dose vitamins
- Hyperbaric oxygen therapy
- Chelation therapy
Autism may not have a cure, but advanced treatments are effective in improving verbal and physical challenges. The earlier the treatment is started, the better it is for maintaining quality of life. Therapy has made it possible for people with ASD to live a normal life, although a lot more needs to be done to sensitise people about this disorder and accept them as an integral part of the society. On World Autism Awareness Day, let’s make a pledge to be far more accepting of people with autism, so they have the right to lead a normal life like we all do.
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