Have you seen the awareness ribbon with the puzzle pattern? It’s the symbol for autism awareness, with the puzzle pieces representing the mystery and complexity of autism spectrum disorders (ASD). The different colors and shapes also highlight the diversity of families living with this condition, which occurs in 1 in 110 births in the US according to the Autism Society.
April is Autism Awareness Month, so it’s a good time to boost your knowledge of this increasingly prevalent developmental disability (with an alarming 10-17% annual growth). Over a lifetime, ASD care costs $3.2 million per person. But the cost of lifelong care can be reduced by two-thirds with early diagnosis and intervention. That’s why it’s so important for parents to get their child evaluated if they suspect autism.
What should you look for? Signs of autism typically appear before the age of the three and can include language delays (or the lack of spoken language), repetitive behaviors (e.g. arm-flapping or repeating language), poor eye contact, lack of interest in peer interaction, lack of spontaneous play and a persistent fixation on the parts of objects.
Even though boys are four times more likely to have ASD than girls, PatientsLikeMe’s community of 600 autism patients (some with accounts maintained by caregivers) has a higher number of females, interestingly. What are they doing to cope? One of the most commonly reported treatments is occupational therapy (OT), which helps ASD patients overcome daily living challenges. Our OT treatment evaluations share valuable advice and experiences, such as this tip: “OT through the school is helpful for less appointment making along with being in a familiar environment.”
To learn more about autism, and how you can become an advocate, check out this powerful video made by the father of an autistic daughter.