2022 WORLD AUTISM DAY: Centre for Public Health, Zambia in collaboration with National Autism Association Zambia organized an awareness walk and talk in the beautiful city of Lusaka, the capital city of Zambia.
Autism is one of the conditions that are not receiving adequate attention in developing countries. Awareness about this condition is still very low hence we need to work hard and educate our people about it, especially the importance of early detection.
What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes are not yet known. Scientists believe there are multiple causes of ASD that act together to change the most common ways people develop. We still have much to learn about these causes and how they impact people with ASD.
People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. There is often nothing about how they look that sets them apart from other people. The abilities of people with ASD can vary significantly. For example, some people with ASD may have advanced conversation skills whereas others may be nonverbal. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others can work and live with little to no support.
ASD begins before the age of 3 years and can last throughout a person’s life, although symptoms may improve over time. Some children show ASD symptoms within the first 12 months of life. In others, symptoms may not show up until 24 months of age or later. Some children with ASD gain new skills and meet developmental milestones until around 18 to 24 months of age, and then they stop gaining new skills or lose the skills they once had.
As children with ASD become adolescents and young adults, they may have difficulties developing and maintaining friendships, communicating with peers and adults, or understanding what behaviors are expected in school or on the job. They may come to the attention of healthcare providers because they also have conditions such as anxiety, depression, or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, which occur more often in people with ASD than in people without ASD.
Social Communication and Interaction Skills
Social communication and interaction skills can be challenging for people with ASD.
Baby – Human Age, Waving – Gesture, Child, Happiness, Looking At Camera
Examples of social communication and social interaction characteristics related to ASD can include
Avoids or does not keep eye contact
Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
Do not play simple interactive games like pat-a-cake by 12 months of age
Uses few or no gestures by 12 months of age (for example, does not wave goodbye)
Do not share interests with others by 15 months of age (for example, shows you an object that they like)
Does not point to showing you something interesting by 18 months of age
Does not notice when others are hurt or upset by 24 months of age
Do not notice other children and join them in play by 36 months of age
Do not pretend to be something else, like a teacher or superhero, during play by 48 months of age
Does not sing, dance, or act for you by 60 months of age
Restricted or Repetitive Behaviors or Interests
People with ASD have behaviors or interests that can seem unusual. These behaviors or interests set ASD apart from conditions defined by problems with social communication and interaction only.
Examples of restricted or repetitive behaviors and interests related to ASD can include
Close-up of a child playing with toy blocks on the carpet.
Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
Plays with toys the same way every time
Is focused on parts of objects (for example, wheels)
Gets upset by minor changes
Has obsessive interests
Must follow certain routines
Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles
Has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel
Most people with ASD have other related characteristics. These might include
Delayed language skills
Delayed movement skills
Delayed cognitive or learning skills
Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior
Epilepsy or seizure disorder
Unusual eating and sleeping habits
Gastrointestinal issues (for example, constipation)
Unusual mood or emotional reactions
Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry
Lack of fear or more fear than expected
(Credit to Center of Disease and Control, USA)