Autism Awareness Week

With Autism Awareness Week upon us, the National Autistic Society (NAS) aims to raise awareness of the condition and ultimately help those with autism.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that affects how people perceive the world and interact with others. This can mean they see, hear and feel the world differently to others.

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions surrounding autism, from how it is treated to who is most at risk, so in honour of Autism Awareness Week, which aims to increase acceptance and understanding, here’s a brief of things you need to know about the condition.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that affects how people communicate and interact with the world. The term ‘autism’ is used to describe different conditions including Asperger syndrome and Pathological Demand Avoidance.

According to data revealed from the World Health Organization, it is estimated that 1 in 160 children worldwide have an ASD, however, there is a huge disparity in diagnoses by gender.

In the UK, official figures indicate there are about 700,000 people on the autism spectrum. Males are currently diagnosed at a higher rate than girls, with a 16:1 ratio.

What are the symptoms?

Autism is a hidden disability and you can’t always tell if someone is autistic, so symptoms can vary widely among individuals. Although, very young children may show early symptoms, such as loss of interest in social contact and social withdrawal.

Early symptoms and signs in babies may vary but can include lack of eye contact or decreased eye contact, being overly focused on one item, and lack of back-and-forth play.

Can anything cause it?

Current research suggests that autism may be caused by many factors that affect the way the brain develops. Doctors in the NHS have pinned it down to two influences that may be the cause of it.

Genes

Most researchers believe that certain genes a child inherits from their parents could make them more likely to have autism, as an individual could have a genetic predisposition.

Environmental triggers

Very few conditions are caused only by genes, in most cases, it is caused by a combination of genes and environmental factors or triggers. Environmental triggers can include lifestyle factors, such as diet and exercise.

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