Autism Spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects an individual’s social and communication abilities. It is a neurodevelopmental dysfunction caused by abnormal brain development. Symptoms can vary depending upon an individual’s personality, genes, and environment. Being a ‘spectrum’ condition, no fixed set of traits can define it.
Let’s look at some facts about Autism that are commonly overlooked.
What Causes It?
One of the most confusing facts about autism is the reason causing it. The exact agent developing ASD among individuals cannot be highlighted. However, it can be said that some genetic and environmental factors can contribute to it.
1. Genetic factors
Autism spectrum disorder can be caused by Genetic Mutation in a person’s DNA. The following factors can cause such mutations:
- Family History with the said disorder
- Older Parental age
- Pregnancy Spaced less than a year apart
- Complications at the time of birth
2. Environmental factors
If the mother, at the time of pregnancy, or the child, at the time of birth, is exposed to unfavorable environmental conditions, it can cause ASD in the child. Some factors in the environment can also result in this condition. Some of these factors are:
1. Exposure of the mother to certain elements and chemicals (lead, for instance) during the pregnancy.
2. Diabetes in the mother during pregnancy.
3. Premature birth of the child.
4. Low birth weight of the child.
5. High levels of Air pollution.
Myths About Autism That Stand No Firm Ground
Over the years, some myths have been formed that completely go against the truthful facts about autism.
- One of the biggest myths surrounding autistic people is that they do not feel empathy.
People on the spectrum may find it difficult to recognize some subtle acts of empathy due to communicational barriers, but that does not mean they do not feel the emotion. They may have different ways of expressing themselves, so remove such groundless assumptions from your mind!
- Another myth is that people with ASD dislike changes.
Every human is bound to be nervous when put in a new environment or an unexpected situation. The same is the case with people with autism as well. They communicate and react differently to situations as they have different sensory and reactive profiles.
- Some people think that all autistic individuals are hypersensitive to touch.
Autism is a ‘spectrum disorder; thus, different people with autism display different symptoms. While some people may be hypersensitive to touch, others may be hypersensitive; or react to touch as relevant.
- People tend to believe that autism is only found among males.
ASD symptoms do not include factors such as gender, race, or ethnicity. It is comparatively common among males but does not mean it cannot be found in other genders. The key is to understand that it is a spectrum disorder and does not affect any specific group of people.
- People think that Autism spectrum disorder is a mental health condition.
In reality, it is a neurological disorder. In other words, a cognitive difference leads to different behaviors and thought processes.
- A lot of people believe that ASD is a condition that can be treated with early intervention, as it is something that can be treated.
While early interventions and services like behavioral therapies may help autistic people thrive, it is not a condition that can be treated. However, it must be understood that it is not a sickness or a mental health condition. It is a different way of perceiving the world due to a differently structured brain.
- It is a misinterpreted notion that all autistic people have intellectual disabilities.
While some people with autism may have difficulty learning, not every person on the spectrum experiences the same.
- People think that all people on the spectrum are outstanding with logic.
Like folks without ASD, people with the said disorder may or may not be good at logical reasoning. Not all of us like math; the same is true with autistic individuals.
- Many parents believe that just because their child is not displaying any physical ‘signs’ of autism, they are not on the spectrum.
However, one does not need to have visible symptoms of ASD. Someone may show specific behaviors (for instance, repetitive actions or different social skills) that translate to autism, but it does not apply to all people on the spectrum.
- There is a highly believed rumor that childhood vaccination can cause ASD.
The exact causes of autism are not yet identified due to its spectrum disorder. It is understood that it is caused by a mix of environmental and genetic factors, and vaccination is not one of them.
Learn What Is Right: Behavioral Facts about Autism
There are some facts about autism that seem to be overshadowed by the myths about it. Autism statistics show that affected people tend to have:
1. Higher Concentration
Many children with autism show increased concentration levels, leading them to excel in the fields they are interested in.
2. Great Imagination
One of the most interesting facts about autism is that many autistic people display greater imaginative capacities, resulting in them being lost in their little world. They can picture rather detailed scenarios without any hindrance!
3. Shy Personality While Meeting People
People are not always kind to different behaviors, which molds their personality into a more reserved one. While interacting with new people, autistic individuals, especially kids, may come off as shy or introverted. The reality behind the situation is that they worry about how others will react.
4. Different Abilities In Key Areas
People with autism spectrum disorder have different abilities in 3 main areas:
- Special Interests
Autistic individuals see the world differently and have different interests based on their special perceptions. While some topics may attract their focus and attention, others might not. If we understand, they’re just a little bit different.
- Special Sensory Input
A majority of people with autism spectrum disorder feel differently. They have different ways of processing sensory inputs. This specialty often makes social interaction difficult for them, but if you’re patient and understanding, you can earn yourself a friend for life!
- Special Thinking
Autistic individuals have different ways of processing information. Thus, they can present new and innovative ideas no one else has ever thought about!
Let’s Learn The Medical Aspects: Biological Facts About Autism
Now that you know about the behavioral tendencies and specialties of autistic individuals, let’s move on to the medical aspects of it. Following are some medical facts about autism:
5. Autism Can Be Diagnosed At An Early Age
If parents receive proper attention and understanding, autism spectrum disorder can be diagnosed earlier than expected. Across the world, there have been many cases where autism among toddlers was diagnosed as early as 18 months of age.
6. Method For Diagnosis
To diagnose autism, doctors observe the behavior of children with ASD. There’s no blood test or any other set procedure that can be used for diagnosis.
7. Early Intervention Services are Important.
Autism spectrum disorder is not a sickness. It does not need to be cured. But early intervention can help autistic people thrive by helping them with stress and emotional management. Speech therapy, occupational therapy, and behavioral treatment can make it easier for them to succeed.
8. Autistic People Undergo Rapid Brain Growth.
Individuals with autism face a condition in which their brain undergoes rapid growth, resulting in unusual connectivity within different brain regions. They’re not disabled; they’re just different and, in ways, faster than those without ASD!
9. ASD Is Broadly Divided Into Three Categories
- Kanner’s Syndrome (Severe Autism) is a condition where the person has severe symptoms, neurological disorders, developmental disabilities, very low IQ, and loss of cognitive capabilities. In the worst cases, mental retardation is also observed.
- People with Asperger’s Syndrome (High Function Autism) have less severe symptoms. This syndrome shows very high levels of IQ.
- Pervasive Development Disorder (Atypical Autism) is a condition wherein a person on the spectrum displays some behavioral tendencies of autism, but they are not enough to fit a diagnosis. Such people show more behavioral deviations.
How Can We Help?
It must be understood that the key to helping autistic people is understanding their condition and being patient. People with autism have trouble expressing themselves and understanding others, so all you can do is be there for them and embrace them the way they are.
People do not develop ASD over time; it is how they are born. Asking them to be ‘normal’ will ask them to be someone they are not. So, try to understand them and love them for who they are rather than making them try to fit in. People with autism are different, and not being sick must be accepted.
Therefore, the best way to accept and help people with ASD is to learn facts about autism and understand what the condition is to avoid myths.
These were some facts about Autism. Do you have any friends with ASD, or are you on the spectrum yourself? Or did we miss any other interesting facts about autism? Tell us in the comments!