By Gracious George
World Autism Awareness Day is observed on April 2, every year to enlighten people about Autism and the need to improve the quality of life of those living with Autism.
This year’s theme is “Inclusion in the Workplace: Challenges and Opportunities in a Post-Pandemic World”, aimed at making people with Autism an integral part of society so they can lead full and meaningful lives.
Autism is a lifelong neurological condition that manifests during early childhood, and shows a range of characteristics such as deficits in communication and repetitive behaviours.
Some children and adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) cannot speak at all and others have delayed or limited verbal communication. Some have greatly impaired mental abilities, while others are gifted in diverse ways.
ASD causes several challenges for an individual including social, communication and behavioural difficulties, as such various organizations around the world contribute to the diagnosis and treatment of ASD.
The 2021 World Autism Awareness Day will address these issues through a virtual event that will include moderated panel discussions with individuals, their experiences and challenges of employment for autistic people in today’s world.
The COVID-19 Pandemic has created new challenges in the global economy, therefore efforts to reshape the economy are ongoing to allow the workplace make inclusion and equity a reality.
It also gives the world a chance to rethink systems of education to create unique ways of teaching to ensure that persons with autism are afforded opportunities to realize their potential.
There is also a call on teachers to be more aware of the indications of autism in children and adopt methods of teaching that express tolerance and understanding while bringing out the best in the children.
Autism is more common in boys than girls and cannot be traced to any particular cause but can be linked to genetic factors, especially if it runs in the family.
Pregnant women who are exposed to certain drugs or chemicals, like alcohol or anti-seizure medications, are also more likely to have autistic children. Other risk factors include maternal metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity.
Common symptoms of Autism include lack of eye contact, repetitive words and movement, restlessness, high sensitivity to sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem ordinary to other people, not looking at things when another person points at them, amongst others.
Autism has no cure but early detection, behavioural therapy and medication can go a long way in improving the life of the patient.