World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day

United Nations General Assembly, in 2007, adopted a resolution that declares every April 2nd as World Autism Awareness Day (WAAD).  This is to bring the world’s attention to autism, a prevalent disorder that affects many worldwide by raising the awareness about autism, to encourage early diagnosis and early intervention.

What is Autism?

Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder are terms describing disorders of the brain development.  There is not only 1 autism but many types due to various combination of genetic and environmental influences.  It is still unknown as to what causes Autism whether is genetic or due to other medical problems.  However, studies have found no link between vaccines and autism.

Symptoms

The symptoms vary greatly but some of the main symptoms are as follows,

Issues with social interactions and relationships:

  • Problems with non-verbal communication skills such as eye-to-eye gazing, facial expressions and body posture.
  • Failure to establish friendships with children the same age.
  • Lack of interest in sharing enjoyment, interests or achievements with others.
  • Lack of empathy.

Verbal and non-verbal communications:

  • Delay in learning to talk.
  • Difficulty to start or continuing a conversation.
  • Stereotyped and repetitive use of language.

Limited interests in activities or play:

  • Focusing on parts of toys rather than playing with the entire toy.
  • Preoccupied with certain topics.
  • A need for daily routine.
  • Stereotyped behaviours like body rocking and hand flapping.

These signs usually appear between age 2 to 3 years or may be observed as early as 18 months in some cases.  With early identification and intervention, these children will be able to have the best opportunity to catch up on skills to support their successful integration into school as well as the society.

It is therefore, important to understand and find support groups, information or training about Autism so that the parent and family is better prepared to cope with the stress and able to help the child develop independence.

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