KEY POINTS

  • Autism is a type of developmental disorder
  • It is found in people across the globe, regardless of their background
  • On April 2 each year, World Autism Awareness Day is observed

World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2 annually with the intention of improving the quality of life of people with autism.

The United Nations has been celebrating World Autism Awareness Day with a different theme every year since 2012. The theme for 2021 is "Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World."

What Is Autism?

Autism is a type of developmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates, behaves and interacts with others. It is characterized by difficulties in social, emotional and communication skills with restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior.

Symptoms Of Autism

The symptoms of Autism can vary from person to person. It could be very mild to very severe.

Here are some of its most common symptoms:

  • Delay in language development or inability to speak
  • Repetitive speech patterns or movements
  • Difficulties in expressing emotions and maintaining eye contact
  • Fixated interests and preoccupations
  • Difficulties in using nonverbal communication
  • Aggressive or disruptive behavior
  • Difficulty in understanding questions and directions

Causes Of Autism

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is found in individuals all around the world, regardless of their race, culture and economic background. Moreover, the exact cause of ASD has not been determined. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), autism can be caused by several genetic and environmental factors.

Some of the suspected risk factors that can lead to autism are as follows:

  • Having an immediate family member who suffers from autism
  • Having genetic mutations and other genetic disorders like Fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis
  • Being born to older parents
  • Having imbalances in metabolism
  • Being exposed to toxic environments
  • Having low birth weight

Treatments For Autism

While there is no medication to cure autism, there are several approaches that are effective in treating people suffering from autism and improving their condition. Early intervention and diagnosis can help drastically improve the learning abilities of children with autism.

Some of the approaches used to help with autism are as follows:

  • Behavioral therapy
  • Speech Therapy
  • Play therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Physical therapy

Sometimes psychoactive drugs like antidepressants and antipsychotics are prescribed to help control specific symptoms.

How To Help Enrich The Lives Of People With Autism

Bringing awareness to the public can help those with autism lead meaningful and happy lives while being accepted as an integral part of society.

It is very important for us to realize that people can suffer from autism at any age and that those with autism perceive information differently from others.

Therefore, it is necessary for society to learn to empathize with and accept them. We can play a significant role in their lives by learning to communicate patiently with them, being supportive and helping them with their tasks, spreading awareness about their condition and giving them other forms of support they may need.

Autism smell test This file photo shows a mother and daughter smelling a rose. New research suggests that smell tests could help diagnose children with autism. Photo: Getty Images