Celebrating Differences with Mediwell Medical and World Autism Awareness Day 2021
Celebrating Differences on World Autism Awareness Day – 2 April
The National Autism Society defines autism as “a lifelong developmental disability which affects how people communicate and interact with the world.”
On 2 April 2021 we commemorate and celebrate World Autism Awareness Day. World Autism Awareness Day aims to shine a light on autism to increase awareness about people and especially children who have autism. There is also hope to develop world knowledge about autism and deliver information on how important it is to detect an early diagnosis. About 2% of children born in Africa develop ASD in early childhood.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication. There isn’t just one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently.
Some scholars even believe that the spectrum is still too broad and that the differences between individuals can be so broad that even the spectrum isn’t specific enough. Signs of ASD usually appear by age 2 or 3. Some associated development delays can appear even earlier, and often, it can be diagnosed as early as 18 months. Research shows that early intervention leads to positive outcomes later in life for people with autism.
How to spot autistic behaviour:
ASD is different for everybody and each individual is different, but here are some things parents can notice at home:
- Not respond to their name by 12 months of age
- Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over) by 14 months
- Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll) by 18 months
- Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Have delayed speech and language skills
- Repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia)
- Give unrelated answers to questions
- Get upset by minor changes in environment, schedules, food, etc.
- Have obsessive interests
- Flap their hands, rock their body, or spin in circles
- Have unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look, or feel
Parents and family need not fret when their child develops ASD-type symptoms as most of these issues are manageable. A person with ASD will always live with the disorder, but through early intervention various treatments and programs are available. They can include ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis), dietary approaches, medication and there are also alternative treatment approaches.
More often than not, people living with ASD will have an obsessive relationship with a specific topic or vocation. It should be explored, expanded and celebrated. Often, people with ASD can have incredible mathematics skills, musical ability, etc. The more the person with ASD can take part in their skills, the happier they could be.
How can you help the Autism community?
- Sharing information online to spread awareness in your online communities.
- Support a local family whose child has autism.
- Getting involved in events run by autism communities.
- Listening to people you know who have autism about what it means to them.
- Donate to an autism organisation.
- Engaging in discussions with your children so that they become aware and acceptance of their similarities and differences
Mediwell Dainfern Medical & Dental Centre is an Autism-friendly medical clinic. Our staff are trained to inclusively treat children and older individuals with ASD. This includes our Dental practitioners, medical doctors, lab, nutritionists and we also provide full autism medical care.
Dr. Maggie Mojapelo-Mokotedi
On 2 April 2021 we “Celebrate Differences” for World Autism Awareness Day and the whole month of April. For more information on ASD or to book your next medical appointment for your family member with ASD, you can contact us right here.