Autism – The paradigm shift.
Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a condition that impacts the nervous system and affects the overall cognitive, social, emotional, and physical health of an individual. Genetics plays a major role for a person to have Autism. Also, there are some environmental conditions responsible for the same. This condition affects 1 in every 68 children. Girls seem less affected than boys. Mainly because girls are better at masking it.
The following are some of the condition’s symptoms,
- Behavioral: Repetitive behaviors like jumping, rocking, hand-flapping, etc. impulsive and aggressive behavior, lack of coordination, or clumsiness, fussy eating habits, etc.
- Cognitive: Less attention span, or problem paying attention, obsessive interest in the limited number of things.
- Developmental: speech delay in childhood, learning disabilities.
- Psychological: sensitivity to sound or light, tic, anxiety, depression, unable to have empathy.
These signs usually show up before the age of 3 and can last throughout the lifespan of a person. Some children display the signs within few months while others take up to 24 months or later. Researchers find Autism genes complicated to understand. Hence, whether this condition is hereditary is currently unknown.
Myths and facts
Many myths float around this topic such as all people with Autism are alike. This is a myth because the name “spectrum disorders” itself suggests that it affects different people in different ways. Where symptoms for the same can vary from mild to severe. Another myth says doctors can cure Autism. This is not true as there is no cure available for ASD currently. However, doctors can ensure development with the growth of the child with various therapies and medication. But only if the diagnosis is at an early age.
The paradigm shift
April 2nd is recognized as World Autism Awareness Day. It is one of seven health-specific UN days. This day brings together all the individual autism organizations to aid in things like treatment, diagnosis, research, and acceptance of those who fall under this spectrum of Autism. In recent years, people discuss Autism on a large scale. Two groups argue over the fact of whether or not Autism is a disability. Both the groups have strong viewpoints to prove their points. But if you look closely, only one perspective of looking at Autism prevails. Medical science defines this perspective. Medical science considers a certain type of behavior as normal behavior and anything which falls out of that category is considered as ‘disabled’. Hence, people consider the behavior of Autistic people as ‘abnormal’.
But, sociologist Jody Singer, coined a term called Neurodiversity in 1998. According to which neurodevelopmental diseases are permanently pathological and instead of that adopted the social model of disability. In short, the barriers of society are responsible for considering people ‘disabled’. If you consult a person with Autism you will find out that the world is as same for them as it is for you. The only difference is that they do not see the bigger picture, instead, they see many small pictures which enable them to understand something in more detail than those who do not have Autism. This makes them probably more aware than most people in the room.
If you pay attention closely to the symptoms, you can find out that these conditions of Autism also work in the favor of the people affected by it. For instance, one of many symptoms says that they have obsessive interests in a limited number of things. This automatically makes them more dedicated and knowledgeable in their respective subjects. If an Autistic person is a doctor he will be really good in diagnosis and treatment as they will be able to look into the details minutely.
Another advantage is the difficulty connecting socially. Now, it might not seem like an advantage if you put it that way. But, imagine the peace of mind a person would have if they stop judging themselves according to society. To sum it all, it is time to put the older understandings about Autism in the dump and try to look at them from the human perspectives. Autism is not a disability but a special ability in the aspects of life. We need to shift the paradigm and accept new ways to look at them.
Needless to say, many great minds like Albert Einstein, Issac Newton, even Bill Gates come under the spectrum of Autism. If you look at it the non-conventional way, you may realize that Autism is nothing but a decorated term for an introvert. You might also discover that there are some of the other autistic signs in everyone. Then who can be fit for the term “Normal”? Autistic people, like any other people, deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. They are entitled to all the duties and rights. This change can be brought about if you change the way of looking at them and calling them ‘disabled’. You should treat them equally. If they can not understand the way we speak then let us speak in the way they understand.