Getting to Know Autism

A picture that shows a symbol of Autism.

A picture that shows a symbol of Autism.

Emery Jovel, Features Editor

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Autism was first discovered and documented in 1943, by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger. Both wrote an article about children in their clinic demonstrating unusual behavior such as lacking social skills and obsession’s over certain objects. Leo Kanner named the psychiatric condition as “infantile autism”, whereas Hans Asperger named it “autistic psychopathy.” Now in present day, the condition is known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Autism for short.

Now in 2019, 1 in 37 boys gets diagnosed with autism, where as 1 in 151 girls gets a diagnosis. But in general, 1 in 59 children gets diagnosed with Autism. So based on the statistics, Autism is more common with males than with females. But what causes the condition? Vaccines were at a time, considered as a contributed factor with Autism. But scientists were finally able to come with a simple conclusion with this theory: there is no link between vaccines and autism.

Then, what are the true causes of autism? There are many theories, but we have yet to find peer-reviewed scientific research that backs any one cause over the other and scientists are still in the process of investigating this.

Some of the early signs for Autism are fidgeting, avoiding eye contact, wish to be alone, repeat or echo words that have been said to them, have trouble adapting when a routine changes, have trouble understanding other people’s emotions, and would have unusual reactions to the way something tastes, smells, looks, feels, and sounds. Some symptoms for the condition include social withdrawal, lack of empathy, unresponsiveness, obsession over an item, repetitive movement, and tantrums. So when dealing with ASD, look for these signs and symptoms.

A picture that demonstrates some of the signs of Autism.

Many autistic people have made a positive impact on the world around us. For example, Temple Grandin is a famous biologist and scientist who was diagnosed with autism in her early childhood. But even with her autism, she was still able to pursue a career in psychology and animal science. She is known for her inventions in the food industry making the process more humane for animals and is considered an activist by many. She became a leading advocate for Autistic people and has written many books regarding Autism and her experience with animals. Some of these books include, The Autistic Brain: Thinking Across The Spectrum and Animals Make Us Human. Temple Grandin has made a huge impact for the Autistic communities, proving to them that even with ASD, you can still achieve what you want in life.

Not all understand the positive impact of autistic people on the world. In fact, many do not treat those with autism with the respect they deserve. For example, Three Hampshire teens were charged with beating and burning the hair of an 18-year-old boy with Autism. The Autistic 18-year-old told the police in Seabrook that the three accused, restrained him, punched him, and spat at him, while flicking a cigarette ash onto his hair. This is the kind of violence and bullying displayed towards those with ASD.

This is why we as a community must show consideration, kindness, patience, and support towards those with autism so they can feel cared for. One example is when 5-year-old Carter Braconi, who has Autism, was taught how to skateboard by a group of teens at the New Jersey Skate Park for his birthday. They helped him when he fell off his skateboard, told him encouraging words, and even sang to him. This is the kind of help and kindness that we as Dana Middle School students should show to those with Autism.

“It’s important to know about autism so we can better understand those on the spectrum and to be able to support them and have more consideration towards them,” states 7th grader, Julia Cardenas. Autism is not something that should be ignored nor detested. Since after all, there is no cure for Autism. But that doesn’t mean that an Autistic person can improve and do incredible things. Some treatments include therapy and early intervention which will help improve learning, communication and social skills, and even brain improvement.

To conclude, those with Autism have to face their own struggles with their condition. Even though, as mentioned before, there is no cure for autism, there is still support and guidance that can benefit those with Autism in many ways. Autism is something that shouldn’t be set aside, instead we can help those with ASD by accommodating and respecting their various needs so they can be guided, supported, and cared for.