Let’s clear the air when talking about what Autism isn’t, shall we? To start with, Autism isn’t a disease, it’s not something that a person can give you if they cough, breathe, or sneeze on you. A person can’t transmit this through anything but their genes, which means (for anyone still scratching their head) that person is born with it, they don’t suddenly ‘catch’ Autism. Now that that’s out of the way, another myth is that it can be cured. Much like any other disorder, which Autism is, this can’t be cured or otherwise treated like a disease can. There are many methods for understanding and adapting to life with an autistic child or family member, and this is as necessary as can be since, despite the disorder, Autistic individuals still desire a life that makes sense, even if it doesn’t appear that way.
It usually appears during childhood.
You might have met an autistic kid at some point in your life and never known it, or you might have been told about an autistic child and simply ignored them because it was too hard to get to know them. Don’t beat yourself up about it, especially since I already mentioned that Autistic individuals tend to exist along a spectrum, meaning that their condition might be hard to notice, or it might be next to impossible to get two words out of them. The movies featuring people with Autism aren’t all bogus, but there are a lot of moments when they take things a little too far. Here are just a couple of things that the movies get wrong, and a couple that they get right.
Wrong: Autistic individuals are all antisocial. This couldn’t be more inaccurate, since some people with this disorder actually thrive around people and yet still need their space like anyone. Thanks to the fact that Autism exists on a spectrum, there are people whose social skills have been greatly impacted by this disorder, but there are also those that are higher functioning and can socialize quite well.
Right: Meltdowns can happen. For those with this disorder that tend to get over-stimulated very easily a meltdown is like emotional TNT in that it doesn’t have one direction. The individual will simply react, and this can involve flailing, screaming, crying, and even an emotional breakdown. They won’t typically get too violent since they’re trying to get through that moment to get back inside their state of mind where everything is comfortable. Having witnessed this, it’s easy to be concerned for someone that’s going through such a thing. But one note to remember is that this is NOT a tantrum. Tantrums have a purpose and are typically to get attention or force someone to do something the individual wants. A meltdown occurs when the individual is over-stimulated and essentially explodes in a very emotional manner. This is when a lot of patience and understanding is needed since calming a person down is the goal.
Wrong: All Autistic individuals are secretly geniuses. Yeah, forget Mercury Rising, or The Good Doctor, or Rain Man. People with Autism aren’t all super-geniuses that can count how many toothpicks were spilled from a box or remember some obscure medical text that they read a while back. Most of them are just as smart as you and I, and some aren’t quite as smart, but this doesn’t mean they’re dumb either. An individual with autism can be exceedingly bright or of average intelligence, since guess what, like you and I, they can learn in their own manner.
The sooner this is diagnosed it can lead to an improvement in quality of life.
Autism will affect a person throughout their life. But there has been research that has shown that diagnosing it as early as possible can make things just a little bit easier. It’s not bound to be easy to know whether or not an individual has this disorder, but there are things to look for that might help, such as:
- A child starts speaking later than usual or is completely nonverbal
- The avoidance of eye contact or communication of any sort.
- A child shows extreme distress if anything in their routine changes.
Having a child with Autism doesn’t mean life will be unbearable.
Remember, this disorder exists on a spectrum, and even if a child exhibits the type of behaviors that might mean they have the disorder doesn’t mean that they can’t lead a full life. It’s bound to be harder, there’s no doubt of that, but at the same time, there’s no need to distance them from other kids or from having a good, healthy existence.
It takes the knowledge of how to treat an individual, how to help them adapt if they can, and how to inform others that they aren’t that different, they simply have a disorder that sets them apart from other people. Look at it this way, most of us are different from one another in very profound ways, but we find a way to deal with each other in order to get along and create an ordered society. I know that’s pushing the limit in this day and age but work with me here.
WTR? (Why’s That Radass?)
It’s important to know as much about autism as one possibly can, especially since the spectrum that more and more people are finding out about has identified several people that live with this condition in numerous ways. The more one learns about this condition, the likelier it is that they’ll comprehend what it means to live with autism.