According to Autism Speaks “autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behavior, speech and nonverbal communication, as well as by unique strengths and differences.”
Each type of Autism Spectrum Disorder will bring about its own challenges and differences, as no two individuals with this disorder are the same. Autism is most obvious in children from the ages of 2 to 3 years of age, with 18 months old being the earliest that Autism can truly be detected and diagnosed.
The signs and symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder include behavior, speech, language and social actions that may seem out of the norm. These signs and symptoms will range and vary depending on the individual’s case of Autism Spectrum Disorder, as no two people are the same and there are several different types of Autism. Signs and symptoms may include inappropriate behavior, inability to interact socially, repetitive language or actions or the inability to speak properly. Signs and symptoms may present themselves early on in an individual’s life, specifically during the formative years of their childhood. However, signs and symptoms of Autism can present itself through out a person’s life and can become more apparent during their later years from 6-18 years of age.
If you believe that you or your loved one is experiencing signs and symptoms of Autism Spectrum Disorder, it is important to seek out professional medical advice. Autism should be diagnosed by a medical professional, as this is a serious diagnosis.
After an Autism Spectrum Disorder diagnosis, it is common to feel as though your life has been turned upside down. There are a lot of moving parts during an Autism diagnosis and you may be left to feel alone and scared about the future. It is important to know that you are not alone. Whether you were diagnosed yourself or your loved one was recently diagnosed, it is important to honor your feelings about this recent diagnosis. Seeking out resources for you and your family can be a great way to work through these emotions and recent life events.
It is imperative to know that life after an Autism diagnosis can be a happy, healthy and fulfilled life. With the help of early intervention and therapy an individual diagnosed with Autism can live a very full life. Although there will be some differences between their life and an individual that does not have Autism, they will start to have their new normal! This may be an adjustment at first, but eventually it will start to feel as though this was how your life was meant to be.
Managing autism may be a family effort, by giving the individual with Autism a healthy environment that will foster a joyful life and attitude. Managing Autism could be through therapy and special programs both in and out of school. Managing Autism successfully can also be giving them a chance to be an individual that flourishes in society, rather than suppressing them based on their diagnosis. Sensory friendly activities can allow the individual with Autism to feel that they are living a full life, despite their disability. Simple activities that they enjoy, such as going for walks or playing fun games, will not only bring them joy but will stimulate their mind in a healthy and productive way!
It is important to know that an individual with Autism Spectrum Disorder can live a very happy life, filled with relationships and friendships that will last a lifetime! Befriending someone with Autism may not be easy, but it is certainly something that will be rewarding in the end. People with Autism are often misunderstood and can be some of the kindest and most gentle human beings at heart. We encourage you to take the time to understand the individual that is on the Autism spectrum and get to know their personality. When you work through their exterior and the challenges they face, you will have a bond that will last a lifetime!
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