Myth: Autism Is Curable
There is no cure for autism, but that doesnt mean improvement is impossible. People on the spectrum have to live with the disorder forever, but with proper education and autism treatment, they can live productive and successful lives just like anyone else.
Restrictive diets, vitamins, and medicine dont provide a cure for autism and shouldnt be considered an alternative to therapy and education.
What Are The Symptoms Of Autism
The most obvious symptoms tend to involve communication and interaction with others.
Autistic people may have different ways of learning, thinking, and problem-solving. Intellectually, autistic people can fall on a range from severely challenged to gifted.
Everybody is different. Some people will have many symptoms, and some will have only a few. Signs of autism in a 3-year-old or 4-year-old may look different from those who are teens or adults. Some autistic people may be able to mask their symptoms.
General signs of autism may include:
- not responding to their name
- avoiding eye contact or not showing an awareness when others are speaking
- not understanding sharing or taking turns
- not looking at objects shown to them
- not pointing or responding to pointing
- having difficulty understanding facial expressions
In older children and adults, you might also notice:
- having difficulty reading body language, facial expressions, and other social cues
- not getting sarcasm, teasing, or figures of speech
- speaking in monotone
Limitations In More Than One Area
Adaptive behavior, or adaptive functioning, refers to the skills needed to live independently . To assess adaptive behavior, professionals compare the functional abilities of a child to those of other children of similar age. To measure adaptive behavior, professionals use structured interviews, with which they systematically elicit information about persons’ functioning in the community from people who know them well. There are many adaptive behavior scales, and accurate assessment of the quality of someone’s adaptive behavior requires clinical judgment as well. Certain skills are important to adaptive behavior, such as:
- , such as getting dressed, using the bathroom, and feeding oneself
- skills, such as understanding what is said and being able to answer
- with peers, members, spouses, adults, and others
Other specific skills can be critical to an individual’s inclusion in the community and to develop appropriate social behaviors, as for example being aware of the different social expectations linked to the principal lifespan stages . The results of a Swiss study suggest that the performance of adults with ID in recognizing different lifespan stages is related to specific cognitive abilities and to the type of material used to test this performance.
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Communication And Interaction Tips For Asd
There are no hard-and-fast rules on how to communicate with a child with ASD. But many family members have had success with these tips:
It can be challenging to interact with a child or grandchild with ASD. But it is one of the most important things you can do to help that child learn. Research shows that early, frequent, and loving involvement of family members is one of the best ways to help children with ASD.
Distinction From Other Disabilities
, intellectual disability is a subtype of or , which is a broader concept and includes intellectual deficits that are too mild to properly qualify as intellectual disability, or too specific , or acquired later in life through or like . Cognitive deficits may appear at any age. is any disability that is due to problems with . This term encompasses many that have no mental or intellectual components, although it, too, is sometimes used as a euphemism for intellectual disability.
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Kids Are Getting Misdiagnosed Today
We have obviously come a long way from the history of disability in America, but we have a long way to go. Currently in my state, sensory processing disorder isnt considered a true diagnosis. Now, this may not seem like a big deal as long as you know whats going on and how to help, but heres the issue. All of the protections for disabled individuals are only available to people with officially diagnosed disabilities.
In the school system here, not only are they not required to provide support for children with SPD, they arent allowed to. I know of many, many children who have received an autism diagnosis knowing full-well that they arent autistic simply so that they can get an IEP at school.
Depending on the childs individual struggles, they decide if theyre closest to the diagnostic criteria for ASD or ADHD, and they diagnose whatever they can to get the child some help. These numbers inflate the ASD rate purely because of the lack of recognition of other diagnoses as true disabilities.
So here is an outline of just a few reasons that the current ASD rate is so high, and why the true number of autistic people is likely still very similar to what it was years ago. You can use this when people try to tell you that everyone is autistic these days!
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The Trouble With Neurodiverse Leadership
The prevalence of Tourette Syndrome is now thought to be around the same as the prevalence of Autism, but has gone under the radar because we associated TS with complex, more noticeable verbal and physical tics and didn’t acknowledge the longer term, pervasive impact of repetitive strain injury and osteoarthritis associated with more subtle lifelong tics. Are some people a ‘little bit Tourettes-y’? Or did we just need to adjust the boundaries for diagnosis?
A recent piece published by Cardiff University shed even more light on the degree to which Autism may be undiagnosed because we have been too prescriptive with how Autism is diagnosed as it is causing people to slip through the net. There are undoubtedly many undiagnosed and misdiagnosed neurodivergents all around us, they may not have struggled with the exact same difficulties but are still in need of finding their community and understanding themselves better.
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Should We Say Everyone Is On The Spectrum
Yes despite there being such a mixed bag of truths when it comes to the everyone is on the spectrum myth the phrase has still managed to become quite popular. This isnt because people want to show off their attempt at science though as, in my experience, it is used to show unity between those who arent on the spectrum and those who are.
Loneliness is a huge problem within the autistic community, with many autists feeling isolated as, sadly, they believe our perspective makes us abnormal and without a place in the world. As such, when people say everyone is on the spectrum it isnt trying to devalue our experiences but is said to demonstrate a willingness to empathise or to try and make autistic people feel welcome where they might previously have not.
No Good intents aside, there are many people on the autistic spectrum who can feel like we are having our experiences belittled or devalued when someone says that we are all on the spectrum . This is because it can trivialise the challenges we face on the spectrum as though we are saying we have just climbed Everest and your response is who hasnt?
What Autistic People Have To Say
Through our Stories from the Spectrum series, weve spoken to several autistic people, who have shared their thoughts on this topic, what being autistic is like for them, and some of the positive aspects of being autistic.
I just seem to see and think about people and the world in a different way. Its part of who I am. John Clark
John Clark, autistic filmmaker, told us:I just seem to see and think about people and the world in a different way. For instance, I am both confused and fascinated by idioms. Its part of who I am. I used to be very self-conscious about people liking and accepting me, but now, I just think, take me or leave me. Were all different. Some people seem to find live and let live a difficult mantra to grasp though.
Patrick Samuel, autistic artist and musician, said: My autism makes it easy for me to do things a lot of non-autistic people may struggle with. I work intensely when Im painting, writing, composing or doing anything creative. I think being autistic also contributes to my aptitude in problem solving and pattern recognition, which can help me research a highly specialised subject and give talks on it.
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Autism Is Not An Illness
Being autistic does not mean you have an illness or disease. It means your brain works in a different way from other people.
It’s something you’re born with or first appears when you’re very young.
If you’re autistic, you’re autistic your whole life.
Autism is not a medical condition with treatments or a “cure”. But some people need support to help them with certain things.
Is Everyone A Little Autistic
A spiky profile of strengths and weaknesses and a neurotypical profile.
A lot of the Autistic people I know have at some point been told by a well-meaning friend or associate that everyone is a little Autistic. As an ADHDer, I was once told we all struggle with memory sometimes, dont we? No doubt these statements are intended to be empathetic and make the person feel accepted and understood, but thats not how it is usually received, let me explain why.
Unbeknownst to the people who say it, it is actually a very controversial statement. To people who have experienced being othered and ostracized for their differences it sounds flippant and minimizes our experiences. If everyone was a little Dyslexic, Dyspraxic, Autistic or ADHD then why would neurominorities experience the exclusion that they do? It’s a little bit like saying to someone with chronic cluster migraines that “we all have headaches, don’t we?” And the answer is no, we don’t all have headaches like that.
Neurominorities have been empowered through the neurodiversity movement. We have gained self-confidence and ownership of our identities through accepting that our brains are different and that that difference is okay. So, when someone who has not experienced any great hardships due to their more balanced cognitive abilities tries to claim that they are a little bit Autistic it is not surprising that we feel they are incorrectly trying to claim a piece of our hard won identity.
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Signs Of Autism In Children
The signs of autism can change as children grow babies and toddlers show different signs of autism than children aged 4 and older.
Babies and toddlers
Signs of autism in babies and toddlers can include a number of things that affect different parts of their life and behaviour.
Autistic babies and toddlers might:
- start talking later than most children
- seem less aware of others around them for example, they might not respond to their name being called
- make repetitive movements when excited or upset – for example flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or making the same noise repeatedly
Autistic babies and toddlers might not:
- smile back when you smile at them
- point to show when they want something
- point to show you something they find interesting
Autistic babies and toddlers might:
- spend a long time setting up toys in a certain way, and set them up the same way every time
- enjoy lining toys up in order, or watching parts of them move
Autistic babies and toddlers might not:
- seem interested in playing with other children their age
- seem to use their toys to make up stories or pretend they might also start pretend play at a later age than most children
Autistic babies and toddlers might:
- react strongly to sounds, smells, touch, tastes, or things they can see for example, if they like the way a stuffed toy feels, they want to spend a lot of time stroking the toy
- become upset if given something to eat or drink thats new to them
- eat a limited range of foods
We Need To Stop Saying Were All A Little Autistic
A few years ago, I was the only diagnosed autistic staff member in a special school. The rest of the staff werent autistic, but many jokingly claimed to be.
Oh, that must be my autism, some would say as they parked their car in the same space each morning.
Yep, thats my autism right there, others would say as they tidied up the staff room in a very specific manner.
Dont get me wrong, I was close friends with a lot of these colleagues. But were it not for the anxiety I suffered at the time, I probably would have challenged those remarks.
Autistic habits are surprisingly easy to pick up in a special school, since youre constantly adapting your behaviour to suit your students needs. But next time you want to show off your autistic traits because you didnt realise your friend was being sarcastic, first go through the years of social isolation, the lifetime of not fitting in, the confusion of peoples comfort zones, the feeling of being the wrong kind of person for not being like everyone else, and the years of having anxiety forced upon you by others. Then you can talk to me about your autism.
Excuse me. I needed that rant.
Having been in the online autism community for quite a while now , Ive noticed that one of the biggest frustrations among autistic people is the following question:
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Who Resolution On Autism Spectrum Disorders
In May 2014, the Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly adopted a resolution entitled “Comprehensive and coordinated efforts for the management of autism spectrum disorders ,” which was supported by more than 60 countries.
The resolution urges WHO to collaborate with Member States and partner agencies to strengthen national capacities to address ASD and other developmental disabilities.
Is Everyone On The Autism Spectrum
Were all a little bit autistic, Everyone is on the spectrum, All of us have autism to a degree. The chances are that, if youve hung around the autism community long enough, youve likely heard someone make one of these statements that suggest that, while its all good and well paying researchers to monitor autism rates, the reality is that we were all autistic all along.
Of course, in reality, none of this is true, after all, if we were all a little bit autistic then why would autistic advocates need to fight for awareness? However, like all good myths, all of these phrases stem from cold hard fact which is why, today, I want to get to the root of these rumours as I ask the question Is everyone on the autism spectrum?
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What Are The Causes Of Autism
The exact cause of autism is still under research, although the following factors predispose an individual to the development of autism
- Gender: Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls.
- Children born to older parents are at high risk of autism spectrum disorder .
- ASD is often seen if a parent or sibling suffers from autistic disorders.
- Genes: People suffering from genetic diseases such as fragile X syndrome or tuberous sclerosis have a higher risk of ASD.
- Medication: Certain drugs such as valproic acid and thalidomide taken by the mother during pregnancy may cause the development of autistic characteristics in the child.
It must be noted that autism is not contagious. It does not spread by playing with or having contact with an affected child. Additionally, there is no relationship between vaccinations and autism development.
- Not responding to name by 12 months
- Not pointing to distant object by 14 months
Symptoms of autism in a child around five years
Symptoms of autism in an adult
- Difficulty in interacting with other people.
- Unable to pick up on body language and emotional subtext in conversations.
- Avoid eye contact while speaking.
- Extreme anxiety in various social situations.
- They may make friends but are unable to maintain friendships or relations.
- Extreme distress at even a minor change in routine.
- Stubborn adherence to rules.
Living With An Autism Diagnosis
Receiving an ASD diagnosis as an adult could mean a greater understanding of yourself and how you relate to the world. And it can help you learn how to better work with your strengths and strengthen areas of your life that are challenging.
Getting diagnosed can help you gain a different perspective on your childhood. It can also help those around you to understand and empathize more with your unique characteristics.
Better understanding the set of challenges you face can help you find new and inventive ways to work with or around those challenges. You can also work with your clinician and your family to seek treatments that may be right for you.
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Highly Focused Interests Or Hobbies
Many autistic people have intense and highly focused interests, often from a fairly young age. These can change over time or be lifelong. Autistic people can become experts in their special interests and often like to share their knowledge. A stereotypical example is trains but that is one of many. Greta Thunberg’s intense interest, for example, is protecting the environment.
Like all people, autistic people gain huge amounts of pleasure from pursuing their interests and see them as fundamental to their wellbeing and happiness.
Being highly focused helps many autistic people do well academically and in the workplace but they can also become so engrossed in particular topics or activities that they neglect other aspects of their lives.