It is amazing how fast this first quarter of the year has flown by. It’s springtime and a beautiful season of the year. We take notice of nature and enjoy some wonderful weather. April is the month where we can also become aware of something many might not be aware of; autism. In this blog, Bald, Bearded, & Blessed wants readers to know about autism and how April is the month utilized to help increase understanding and acceptance of this diagnosis.
What is Autism?
When many people think about autism, they usually associate the diagnosis with mental retardation. However, autism and mental retardation are not the same. Autism is a diagnosis that impacts children and adults in the areas of social communication and sensory. The core symptoms of autism are social communication challenges and restrictive, repetitive behaviors.
Autism impacts children and adults with verbal or non-verbal communication skill challenges. This can pose difficulty for their appropriate use of and/or understanding the following:
- spoken language
- eye contact
- facial expressions
- tone of voice
- expressions not meant to be taken literally
- Recognizing emotions and intentions in others
- Recognizing one’s own emotions
- Expressing emotions
- Seeking emotional comfort from others
- Feeling overwhelmed in social situations
- Taking turns in conversation
- Gauging personal space (appropriate distance between people)
Autism is on a spectrum. Meaning, signs and symptoms may vary and are not “cookie cut” for those with the diagnosis. In regards to the restrictive and repetitive behaviors, these will vary across the spectrum. The behaviors can include:
- Repetitive body movements (e.g. rocking, flapping, spinning, running back and forth)
- Repetitive motions with objects (e.g. spinning wheels, shaking sticks, flipping levers)
- Staring at lights or spinning objects
- Ritualistic behaviors (e.g. lining up objects, repeatedly touching objects in a set order)
- Narrow or extreme interests in specific topics
- Need for unvarying routine/resistance to change (e.g. same daily schedule, meal menu, clothes, route to school)
Watch this Autism Speaks video titled, “My Name is David”. It’s a great animation that depicts what a child experiences with autism.
Autism Statistics and Stigmas
Autism is a diagnosis that has received more spotlight in the past few decades. With the increased awareness and focus over the past few decades, autism research has been a vital component of showing the impacts of autism. The research provides the impact of autism in the areas of prevalence, causes, interventions and supports, other mental conditions, family and caregivers, and economics. Here are just some of the statistics associated with autism.
- In 2018 the CDC determined that approximately 1 in 59 children is diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD); 1 in 37 boys and 1 in 151 girls
- Boys are four times more likely to be diagnosed with autism than girls.
- Over the last two decades, extensive research has asked whether there is any link between childhood vaccinations and autism. The results of this research are clear: Vaccines do not cause autism.
- Early intervention can improve learning, communication and social skills, as well as underlying brain development.
- Many children affected by autism also benefit from other interventions such as speech and occupational therapy.
- Attention Deficient Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) affects an estimated 30 to 61 percent of children with autism.
- Anxiety disorders affect an estimated 11 to 40 percent of children and teens on the autism spectrum.
- Research demonstrates that job activities that encourage independence reduce autism symptoms and increase daily living skills.
- The majority of autism’s costs in the U.S. are for adult services – an estimated $175 to $196 billion a year, compared to $61 to $66 billion a year for children.
There are negative stigmas that are associated with autism. When the autism diagnosis was first recognized in the 1940’s, terms like “insane” or “retard” were common. In those early days, families were encouraged to send their children away to institutions. Presently, parents and children still experience negative stigmas with autism. Autistic children experience bullying and ridicule in school settings. Oftentimes, parents and caregivers report they experience stares from others in public places for their child’s “disruptive behavior”. To combat these negative stigmas, the has been some great efforts both nationally and internationally to increase understanding and support to the autistic community.
April is designated as World Autism Awareness Month. This is a month were global awareness is brought to autism. During this month, individuals and organizations can pledge to wear the color blue, engage in activities, and raise funds for autism awareness, acceptance, inclusion, and research. World Autism Awareness Day was adopted in 2007 on April 2nd. This marks the 12 years of the World Autism Day. On April 2nd, the international community demonstrates support of those living with autism via lighting up buildings, landmarks, communities, and homes in the color blue. Anyone can participate in this global autism awareness campaign.
Autism awareness has been championed by actors, entertainers, and sports organizations. One of the most recognized champions of the autism community is Temple Grandin. Temple is one of the first spokes persons for autism who shared her experiences as a person with autism. She received critical acclaim for her semi-biographical film Temple Grandin.
Bald, Bearded, & Blessed Goes Blue For Autism
Bald, Bearded, & Blessed with being showing support for autism awareness. In support of National Autism Awareness Month, Bald, Bearded, & Blessed has launched our Go Blue for Autism shirts. Check out the black and blue , blue and white, and white and blue shirts online. Share this blog and purchase your shirt to help raise awareness for those living with autism.