1st -7th April.
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neuro-behavioral condition that affects a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. The signs can be identified as early as the first few months of life but typically diagnosis is made from two years of age through a professional evaluation.
What Causes Autism?
There are numerous hypothesis on the causes of Autism. Research however suggests that it is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Of importance to note is that Autism is not linked to childhood vaccinations as was previously widely believed.
What are the Signs of Autism?
ASD affects individuals in different ways and to varying degrees. Some of the associated signs include:
• Repetitive use of language and/ or motor mannerisms (e.g. hand-flapping, spinning)
• Difficulty making eye contact
• Lack of or delay in spoken language (an estimated 1/3 are non-verbal)
• Preference for solitude
• Poor motor skills
• Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
• Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play
• Fixation on parts of objects
• Unusual and intense reactions to external exposure e.g. sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
Is Autism Curable?
Autism is not curable but it is treatable. With early diagnosis and intervention, individuals with ASD can today have a significantly improved quality of life. Intervention measures include improved learning, communication and social skills, brain development, speech and occupational therapy. These measures should be tailor-made for individuals.
Facts on Autism
• WHO estimates there are > 800,000 people in Kenya who have ASD.
• The prevalence is four times higher in boys than girls globally.
• Global Statistics estimate 1 in 88 children will be diagnosed with ASD and that more children will be diagnosed with autism than with cancer, aids, and diabetes combined.
Unfortunately, Autism in Kenya is still highly stigmatized and in many areas is associated with witchcraft. This has made it difficult for parents & guardians to seek and acquire assistance.
Support those you know around you – that family member, the friend who keeps their child hidden, the neighbor fighting depression from the struggles of raising an autistic child. Purpose to put a smile on their face, lend them an ear, offer financial assistance, do what you can – big or small and shine the Autism light.
Have an Autism aware week :-)