The eleventh annual World Autism Awareness Day was on April 2. Every year, on April 2, autism organisations around the world celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. In fact, in the US the entire month of April is dedicated to Autism Awareness.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a spectrum of conditions which affect social communication, social imagination and social interaction. Spectrum conditions like ASD effect individuals in different ways and children with ASD require different levels of support.
A few years ago, new diagnostic criteria for Autism were published in DSM-5. The diagnostic criteria were changed in order to get rid of some of the variance in the way children with autism are diagnosed and get treatment. Autism is still considered an umbrella diagnosis but the separate diagnosis of Aspergers, Autism, PDD, PDD-NOS and Retts are no longer used. Now a child who may previously have been diagnosed with Aspergers under the old DSM-4 criteria would now be diagnosed as Mild Autism, while a child with Retts Syndrome would be said to have Severe Autism.
Under DSM-5 criteria, individuals with ASD must show symptoms from early childhood, even if those symptoms are not recognised until later. This criteria change encourages earlier diagnosis of ASD but also allows people whose symptoms may not be fully recognised until social demands exceed their capacity to receive the diagnosis.
World Autism Awareness Day is celebrated by wearing blue. By wearing blue we show the world that we value diversity, that everyone has something to contribute and that supports are available. By celebrating the day, we can change people’s perceptions of what it is to be born with autism.
Like many people my very first introduction to Autism was the film Rainman. In many ways the film was instrumental in bring Autism into the public’s consciousness, but it also only gave a very one-dimensional version of Autism – a socially inept adult with a strong need to maintain routines or else he has a meltdown, who is also a savant and gifted regarding maths. Very useful for Tom Cruise to make a killing in a Vegas casino, but not a true reflection of the complexity of the condition.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a range of conditions which affect social communication, social imagination and social interaction. Spectrum conditions like ASD effect individuals in different ways and people with ASD require different levels of support.
At Hummingbird Learning Centre, some of our Hummingbirds are on the autism spectrum and they to us bring a unique perspective on life. I often think that autism is simply a different filter though which we interpret the world and once we understand each other’s filters then communication becomes much easier.