What Is Autism?

Today is World Autism Awareness Day! April is Autism Awareness month. For the month of April, I'll be doing Autism-related posts, so I'm very excited!! If you're looking for politics this month, it won't be around for anytime soon. Sally Phillips said, "The siblings of special needs are quite special. Absolutely accepting and loving, from birth, of someone who is different mentally and has a different way of seeing the world, is a wonderful trait. It's a trait I wish there was another way of getting, but there isn't. And it does involve a degree of not having it fantastically easy." I hope everyone learns something they didn't know before. So, what is Autism? 

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviors in a person. Communication and social skills are heavily affected. These can include limited eye contact, narrow range of interests, back-and-forth communication, and more. Behaviors are affected because they don’t have the mental cognition to understand proper behaviors, so this can include screeching at an unfamiliar noise or randomly crying. According to the CDC, 1 in 59 children are diagnosed with ASD. Boys are four times more likely to have Autism. As of right now, there is no known cause for autism, therefore, no cure. Diagnosis is usually found between the ages of 2-4. Simon Baron-Cohen, the leading researcher in ASD, had done a study, which I read in Milo Yiannopoulos' Dangerous. He found that autism was systematized, rather than emphasized. Simon found the female babies were more emphatic, while the male babies were more systemic. This has possible explanation for why ASD is found more in boys than girls, so that was interesting to read. 

There are other conditions associated with ASD, such as schizophrenia, Sensory Processing Disorder, epilepsy, issues with sleeping, OCD, and more. SPD is when a person doesn’t receive sensory signals correctly. Something as simple as touching their arm could feel like needles hitting them. For children with ASD, their body and brain don’t work together. Imagine this: when you (an able-bodied person) looks at a tree, what do you see? The limbs, the trunk, some leaves. Someone with ASD looks at a tree, and sees everything at once. The leaves, the trunk, and the branches are melded into one, and they can’t comprehend that, which can lead into a “meltdown.” A meltdown is basically when someone with ASD’s emotions explode. That’s why many with ASD take speech, occupational, or physical therapy, or even a combination of the three. To help the brain and body learn how to work as one.
There were branches of autism, but in 2012, it all became categorized under the term “Autism Spectrum Disorder.” Those diagnosed before 2012 kept their specific diagnosis, but I still think you should know about these branches of autism.
  • Asperger’s Syndrome: This is on the “high” end of the Autism spectrum. Most with Asperger’s are able to speak and care for themselves. They just have poor social skills.
  • Rett's Syndrome: More common in females, Rett starts out mild with some hand flapping or jumping. More severe symptoms are present later in life, and that individual will need lifelong care.
  • Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD): This is a rare form of Autism, where the child appears to be developing normally, then all of a sudden, begins to digress (i.e. not making eye contact anymore).
  • Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS): Like Asperger’s, PDDNOS is a mild form of autism. They may have social and developmental delays, but most are able to care for themselves and need small treatments (i.e. dietary restrictions, occupational therapy).
  • Kanner’s Syndrome (classical Autism): Considered the “norm” of Autism, this is where little to no communication is found, high sensory issues, or issues understanding/communicating with others, a more severe form of ASD.

Why is autism important to me? The day before my brother's (righthand image) 3rd birthday, he was diagnosed with ASD. Even though nothing was said to say my brother was autistic, or something was “wrong” with him, my mom said I had an intuition, and I was 5 at the time of his diagnosis. She said I went to my brother, gave him one of my toys, and hugged him. Joshua is a toe-walker, nonverbal, not potty-trained, and incapable of caring for himself. Even though it’s hard, and it can get extremely stressful (especially with Covid-19), I still love him. I thank God I have someone as amazing as him in my life. That's why I got a tattoo for him (lefthand image)! I'll discuss my life with autism later on this month. Stay tuned!

In closing, autism affects us more than we know. These numbers grew rapidly from the time autism was becoming known to the present. But autism isn't the problem. It's society not being accepting or not understanding of those who are different. My brother cannot help if he's listening to Blake Shelton with his earphones on, and he starts flapping his hands or screeching. I don't appreciate the dirty looks. I can't tell you how annoyed that makes me. If you see someone acting "out of the usual," don't jump the gun and judge them. Take a minute to understand they might have something mentally wrong with them. I hope this educated you on what autism is.

Still have questions on autism? Put them in the comments: I'll answer them as best as I can!

Read my other autism-related posts:


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