Apr 2
2021

World Autism Day (April 02, 2021)

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World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated annually on April 02 all over the world. This year’s theme is ‘Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World.’ This theme is a message or an opportunity to highlight acceptance, kindness, and Inclusion of Individuals with autism at their Workplaces.  It is a day to portray that the Autistics can achieve productivity goals with their talents, skills, and amazing ability to excel with excellence and precision.

Autism-friendly events and educational activities take place all month because Autism Awareness is not only celebrated on April 02, but the whole month of April is celebrated as Autism Awareness Month. 

Purpose of celebration

The purpose of celebrating this day or month is to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, foster worldwide support, and inspire a kinder, more inclusive world for them. Throughout April, the world comes together to celebrate the achievements and success that individuals with autism bring to the world through their talents, skills, and amazing ability to excel in the field of arts, science, and technology.

Understanding autism

The Centre for Disease Control says that 1 in every 88 children have ASD. There has been an almost 25% increase in these cases over the last few years worldwide. Autism is also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a mental disorder that occurs when one’s brain is formed differently than a neurotypical person. It is a wide spectrum, ranging from extremely low functioning, such as Classic Autism, to high functioning, like Asperger’s Syndrome. Due to its complex nature, autism was recognized by scientists, doctors, and researchers in 1943, and it was Dr.Leo Kanner who was the first to describe this disorder.

Behaviors associated with ASD

Someone affected with ASD can face delayed learning of language, find it difficult to make eye contact or hold a conversation. They also have problems related to reasoning and planning. They usually have poor motor skills and sensory sensitivities. The behavior of one autistic person may differ from the other depending upon their condition.

Autism is sometimes confused with mental illness, personality disorders, or mental retardation. And it causes some people to forget that autistics are human beings with real feelings, empathy, and the capacity to learn and grow. 

Symptoms

Common symptoms include:

  •  Lack of social skills,
  • Constant repetition of specific actions (stimming).

Causes

The cause is unique for different people:

  • Some inherit autistic genes
  • Some acquire it due to complicated pregnancies,  a prenatal viral infection in the pregnant mother, exposure to certain chemicals, and even advanced paternal age
  • Genes are found to be the primary cause of autism. The majority of autism cases have been a result of the activation or expression of several different genes
  • Environmental factors also trigger the traits of autism

Cure/Solution

There is no cure because it is not an illness. However, here are some ideas and hope which can be helpful to the autistics. They are as follows:

  • Acceptance:

Acceptance is the key. You have to acknowledge that they are different and can be treated with lots of care.

  • Understand:

If you can understand the autistics by talking to and just observing, you can very well motivate them in their best interests.

  • Patience:

Please do not get frustrated with the autistics, and it makes them stressed and depressed frequently.

  • Independence:

Treat them as a complete individual. Let them learn to be independent. Do not restrict their physical movement.

  • Listen:

If an autistic person tells you they can’t do something, don’t argue with them. Listen to them and ask why and try to figure out what you can do to help them. Autistic people often need clear instructions on how to do things, and they also need a controlled environment. In many cases, you may find that you can quickly find ways to help them if you listen more.

  • Assume good faith:

Autistic people may have meltdowns or may shut down entirely in certain situations. Try to understand these behaviors less intentionally. Try to talk to them calmly and anticipate their needs, and remove any unnecessary stressors.

  • Give them space to shine:

Autistic people are sometimes bullied and looked down upon or mid treated by their family members. Try to give them space so that they should express themselves well.

  • Teach them things about socializing:

Autistic people often struggle to learn social norms by watching. Don’t try to force social norms on them as a set of strict rules, but rather, try to help them establish a “theory of mind,” i.e. if you see them interacting with others. Something goes wrong, and they leave the situation confused, talk to them after the fact and try to explain to them what was going on.

  • Expose them to neurodiverse role models:

Try to find some good autistic role models for them to look up to. They would not find themselves the only sufferers to follow others to lead a happy life.

On behalf of NAYS-Pakistan, we want to spread awareness regarding this day to the general public that it’s our responsibility to help improve the quality of life of autistic people and to ensure them to lead full and meaningful lives as an integral part of society. Autism is characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication for the autistic, but our purpose is to provide awareness about people’s characteristics with this condition, increase understanding, and promote kindness. 

Article: Ms. Sundeela Fayyaz

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