Wednesday, April 3, 2013

April is Autism Awareness Month!

April is Autism Awareness Month
The sixth annual World Autism Awareness Day is April 2, 2013. Every year, autism organizations around the world commemorate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events.

What is Autism?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.
ASD can be associated with intellectual disability, difficulties in motor coordination and attention and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some persons with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
What Causes Autism?
Not long ago, the answer to this question would have been “we have no idea.” Research is now delivering the answers. First and foremost, we now know that there is no one cause of autism just as there is no one type of autism. Over the last five years, scientists have identified a number of rare gene changes, or mutations, associated with autism. A small number of these are sufficient to cause autism by themselves. Most cases of autism, however, appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.
Currently, there are no defined methods on how Autism can be diagnosed but trained physicians and psychologists can administer autism-specific behavioral evaluations. Being a mom of a growing baby and someone who has the talent of panicking, I have equipped myself with some of the most important information in the world of growing up kids.

Among the most obvious signs or “Red Flags” of Autism as I have read in most articles are as follows:
Failure to establish eye contact
No response when name is called
Playing things in unusual or repetitive ways
No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions by six months or thereafter
No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions by nine months
No babbling by 12 months
No back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving by 12 months
No words by 16 months
No meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating) by 24 months
Any loss of speech, babbling or social skills at any age

Check to see if your child is achieving these typical milestones at each age level:
By 3-4 months
•Watches faces with interest and follows moving objects
•Recognizes familiar objects and people; smiles at the sound of your voice
•Begins to develop a social smile-
•Turns head toward sounds
By 7 Months
•Responds to other people's emotions
•Enjoys face-to-face play; can find partially hidden objects
•Explores with hands and mouth; struggles for out of reach objects
•Responds to own name
•Uses voice to express joy and displeasure; babbles chains of sounds
By 12 Months/1 Year
•Enjoys imitating people; tries to imitate sounds
•Enjoys simple social games, such as “gonna get you!”
•Explores objects; finds hidden objects
•Responds to “no;” uses simple gestures, such as pointing to an object
•Babbles with changes in tone; may use single words (“dada,”“mama,” “Uh-oh!”)
•Turns to person speaking when his/her name is called.
By 24 Months/2 Years
•Imitates behavior of others; is excited about company of other children
•Understands several words
•Finds deeply hidden objects; points to named pictures and objects
•Begins to sort by shapes and colors; begins simple make-believe play
•Recognizes names of familiar people and objects; follows simple instructions
•Combines two words to communicate with others, such as “more cookie?”
By 36 Months/3 Years
•Expresses affection openly and has a wide range of emotions
•Makes mechanical toys work; plays make-believe
•Sorts objects by shape and color, matches objects to pictures
•Follows a 2- or 3-part command; uses simple phrases to communicate with others, such as “go outside, swing?”
•Uses pronouns (I, you, me) and some plurals (cars, dogs)
By 48 Months/4 Years
•Cooperates with other children; is increasingly inventive in fantasy play
•Names some colors; understands concepts of counting and time
•Speaks in sentences of five to six words
•Tells stories; speaks clearly enough for strangers to understand
•Follows three-part commands; understands "same" and "different"
By 60 Months/5 Years
•Wants to be like his/her friends; likes to sing, dance, and act
•Is able to distinguish fantasy from reality
•Shows increased independence
•Can count 10 or more objects and correctly name at least four colors
•Speaks in sentences of more than five words; tells longer stories
I personally had a first hand caring experience being a Therapist by degree (unfortunately, not by profession). After I graduated college, I had the opportunity to handle kids with different levels of development. I have worked as a social worker prior to engaging in the current profession that I have. I could say that being a therapist was a fulfilling experience although not financially beneficial here in my country, unless practiced in other countries. Many of whom I cared for became attached with me not because I pity them but because they are truly special and loving. They may have “delays” in their development but if you will delve more deeply and explore their emotions, you will find a certain fondness to these kids and will eventually get attached. Autism is not a disease; they are just simply children who are unique like every other kids…

I salute the parents of these kids. I have been witness to some of the miracles of how love, understanding, patience and prayers can do wonders. All children are blessings from Heaven and I believe that the reason why they are here is because in them we can find hope and wherever hope resides, there will always be someone who will always be willing to give an unconditional love…

1 comment:

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