Letter to editor: National Autism Awareness Month

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Kimber Griffin

Contributor

There are many organizations that are trying to bring awareness to certain diseases, disorders and preventions this month. One of the most important campaigns to me is National Autism Awareness.

I am personally drawn to this disorder because I have an uncle that suffers from autism and many other handicaps.

According to www.cdc.gov, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which is also known simply as autism, is a disorder characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. This disorder is said to start showing symptoms in early childhood and affect daily functioning.

Some children diagnosed with autism can function to the fullest while some require substantial support to perform their daily activities. Also, this disorder can develop within any ethnicity and is more significant in boys than girls.

Common signs and symptoms of ASD in infants include: becoming overly focused on certain objects, rarely making eye contact, and failure to engage in babbling with their parents.

The social impairment and communication difficulties of ASD vary from not understanding how to play or interact with other children, failure to respond to their name, response to others only to achieve specific goals, difficulty to understand how other people’s feelings and the desire to be alone.

The verbal abilities of people with autism vary from no speech at all to speech that is fluent, but awkward or inappropriate. They also don’t understand how to use non-verbal cues such as body language, gestures, or tone of voice.

Finally, characteristic behaviors include getting angry or having emotional outbursts, especially when placed in a new or overly stimulated environment.

Scientists don’t really know what causes ASD, but they have come to some theories. They believe that genetics and environment play a role in this disorder and feel concerned about the rise of cases in recent decades without explanation as to why.

Studies suggest that this disorder could be caused from disruptions in the normal brain growth early in development and that the disruptions could be caused by defects in the genes that control brain development and regulate how brain cells communicate with each other.

Environmental factors may also play a role in gene function and development, but no specific environment causes have been identified. Finally, a few years ago, scientists theorized that ASD could be caused by childhood vaccinations, but several studies have proven that childhood vaccinations do not increase the risk of ASD.

There is no cure for ASD, but therapies, interventions, and even some medications can help treat the main symptoms of this disorder. Early behavioral or educational interventions have been proven to be very successful in many children with ASD.

I would like to encourage Troy University students to help raise awareness for autism and to show your support to those with this disorder by donating to autismspeaks.org.

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