Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder, is a neurological disorder that effects a child’s development. It is characterized by a difficulty with social interaction and communication, and by restricted and/or repetitive behavior. According to the CDC, it effects approximately 1 in 54 children. That’s over 3M Americans. It’s 4 times more common among boys than girls. And it occurs in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups. Autism is also a Chronic illness.
When I was in college, many moons ago, I had a required reading assignment that fascinated me. The book was Dibs: In Search of Self, written by clinical psychologist and author Virginia Axline. I would highly recommend it to anyone. This was possibly the first documentation that opened the door, examined and detailed what a child can accomplish despite setbacks and scorn. And while no two children, with or without Autism, are alike … the book offers an excellent insight into their lives.
The signs of Autism often appear by age two. Each child usually exhibits a unique pattern of behavior as well as a level of severity. Some autistic children have difficulty learning. Others have normal to high levels of intelligence. As they grow, it’s possible for the child to become more socially engaged. He or she may also show fewer disturbances in their behavior. And those with the least severe problems often lead normal lives.
Children and adults with Autism have much to offer the world. If we just take a moment to watch, listen and admire their abilities. They learn differently. They are socially awkward. But we are all different. We all have strengths and weaknesses. Once we as a society embrace that, we are one step closer to understanding Autism. They have the ability to be creative, smart and productive. But they need to be nurtured differently. Consider the following well-known individuals in history who lived with Autism:
- Hans Christian Andersen – Children’s Author
- Lewis Carroll – Author of “Alice in Wonderland”
- Charles Darwin – Naturalist, Geologist, and Biologist
- Temple Grandin – Animal Scientist
- Steve Jobs – Former CEO of Apple
- Tim Burton – Movie Director
- Michelangelo – Sculptor, Painter, Architect, Poet
- Bobby Fischer – Chess Grandmaster
- Emily Dickinson – Poet
- Thomas Jefferson – President
Try to imagine the world without their accomplishments. I can’t.
Autism is not a new health issue. Obviously, it has been around for a while. Yet, misconceptions still exist about the diagnosis and those who live with the condition. We can change that. April is Autism Awareness Month. If you or a loved one has Autism, read the reference links below. Learn more. Most importantly, share the information!
*Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash