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How aware are you about ‘AUTISM’?

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Today April 2nd, is World Autism Awareness Day. Although we know so much more about autism than we did twenty or thirty years ago, it is still very important for all of us to make sure we know some facts and are able to debunk the myths about autism.

As an Applied  Behavioral Analyst with a  deep passion for autistic children, I am joining the rest of the world in wearing blue #LIUB and campaigning for a cause I believe in!

But today is about so much more than tweets and t-shirts. People like my childhood friend, Oyin! My cousin Sammy! and so many others who are on the autism spectrum, live with it every single day — we can’t stop showing our support when the blue lights go out.aut 5

Awareness is the first step to making true progress. With a loud enough megaphone, supported by your voice, we can convince lawmakers to fund more research for innovative treatments and resources for students on the spectrum who need a little extra support to keep up with their peers.

We can keep mapping the human genome to gain greater understanding of the many forms of autism and develop personalized treatments. We can educate more parents about the signs of autism to increase the rate of early diagnosis — and then connect them with the resources they need to help their child lead a happy and healthy life.

Here are 10 good reasons we should care about AUTISM:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.aut 3aut 2A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

  1. About 700,000 people alone in UK are on the autism spectrum and with their families they make up around 2.8 million people whose lives are affected by autism on a daily basis according to the National Autistic Society. While about 36,500 of every 4 million children born each year in the United States will have autism.
  2. The number of people diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) has dramatically increased over the last few years. Today it’s estimated that one child in 68 has ASD. This means in a secondary school of 1500 students about 15 of them will be autistic.
  3. Being diagnosed as autistic isn’t a label or something negative – it can mean the difference between growing up in a confusing, scary world and getting all the right support and services. It also gives parents an explanation for difficulties their child is having. Adults can be diagnosed with autism as well.use1
  4. Autistic people have a unique take on the world that can be fun, enlightening, entertaining and thought-provoking. They encourage us to see the value of sounds, smells, places and objects that may otherwise pass us by.
  5. Chances are most people will know or be related to someone with autism making it vital that they understand something about what autism is and how they can adapt their world to make it more autism-friendly.
  6. Autism is an invisible disability. That they could have extreme difficulties with sensory processing and social understanding and interaction is not immediately apparent.
  7. Every autistic individual has their own unique version of autism. There are many myths and assumptions, but if you’ve met one person with autism … you’ve met one person with autism.aut 4
  8. That kid in the supermarket having a tantrum might just be an autistic child so overloaded with sights, smells and sounds that the fear and stress has led to a meltdown. Think twice before judging: many parents are fighting battles like these every day and need your understanding and support.
  9. Autistic traits have had a clear benefit to human development, and can affect the emotional well-being of the caretaker – Reach out to a family in need today!
  10. Finally, I would like everyone reading this to show support within their natural environment by volunteering to learn coping strategies – Sunday schools! Camps, or even within your community! And my prayer is that, eventually they will grow up in a world that understands and embraces their difference … shortcomings and all.

***Dedicated to all my 240 adorable Autistic children & families, to the ones we have lost due to late intervention or mis-diagnosis and to all the early intervention/behavioral therapists who have dedicated their lives to serve them. Thank you.

Yours in HOPE as I #LightItUpBlue for Autism Awareness this month!

Yinka.

for Autism Resources Inc   ‘coming soon!

 

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April is “AUTISM AWARENESS MONTH” (why every WOMAN should attend the upcoming AUTISM support workshop) Part Two.

autism mainWhat I noticed as I walked in was a toddler laughing and spinning around with a stuffed animal at the end of her outstretched arms. She had that kind of pure laughter that made me smile just hearing it. I was ushered in by her tensed parents as I pulled out my hands for a firm handshake, something I usually do to help calm my client’s family, especially when they’ve just received a diagnosis of Autism for their child.

Their beautifully decorated living room had every wall covered with pictures of Alana from child-birth; some were craftily captured in black and white prints, with focal point on the child’s contagious laughter. I sat back and observed my little client for a while. I’m not sure she even noticed me.

Halfway through my pile of paperwork (Developmental Behavioral Assessment/M-CHAT/ASQ) with her parents, I heard the girl shout, “Elmo! ‘Love Elmo!” her speech was stifled and seemed mumbled, under water-like.

“Oh hi. ‘I love Elmo too! I whispered in exaggerated excitement, “Do you want to play with me?” I went down on the floor and sat next to her, not looking into her eyes or invading her personal space, just showing her my folder with the picture of Elmo in it! She didn’t answer or object, but gently touched the folder and looked away! That was a go-ahead-show me sign from her! Yes!! (I was totally thrilled).

A relationship was built! trust was established! sensory impact was initiated, boundaries were set! and the tears began to fall from her mother, as I smiled up at my newly acquired friend. That was 2 years ago… Alana, the 80th kid with Autism Spectrum Disorder on my caseload was as equally special and beautiful to me as all the other children put together in my entire life time!

Today, she’s progressing well and is a very healthy five-year-old, last time I checked with her mom, “oh, she sings “let it go” in her own very special way! …well, literally! And also receiving support through Autism Speaks Group. Awesome!

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day and Light It Up Blue! It is celebrated each year and adopted by the United Nations in 2007 to shine a bright light on autism as a growing global health crisis. Autism is one of only three health issues to be recognized with its own day by the United Nations to increase world knowledge of autism and impart information about the importance of early diagnosis and early intervention.

So, if you noticed a child has lack of or delay in spoken language, repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (e.g., hand-flapping, twirling objects, consistent rocking), Little or no eye contact, Lack of interest in peer relationships, Lack of spontaneous or make-believe play or Persistent fixation on parts of objects.. Chances are you know an Autistic child or have encountered one somewhere. It’s not easy knowing what to do or how to respond to the quirks (or outbursts) of an autistic child. Public tantrums are par for the course with these children.

How many of us have seen a kid have an outburst while their embarrassed parents try to get control? Well, ratchet that up a couple of notches for autistic kids. Their tantrums can get rough. Don’t …gape and stare at the child and parent, saying “Can you believe that kid?” faces. And especially don’t make comments or tell the parent, “Can’t you control your kid?” Just go about your business. Or if you catch the eye of the child’s caregiver, just flash a smile. Or offer to help! It can work wonders.

Honestly, you haven’t met anyone so unique and exceptional until you encounter a special need child. Their love is pure, genuine and transparent. You see through their little eyes rays of hope and unquestionable bewilderment. What you see is what you get!

So, instead of staring at the “un-believable” sight or scene, why not give emotional support. Be that imaginary horse to be ridden on or be their knight in shining armor who sings of their praises, it helps build their confidence. Reach out this month – to a special need child and family.

***(Dedicated to all my 100 Autistic caseload children and their families from over 11 years! – ‘I am (still) Lighting it BLUE for you this month and (still) believing God for a miracle!) Love you all for real!

***You can learn more about giving support to a special needs child/family at the upcoming:

*** RCCG LSMC 2015 TOTAL WOMEN CONFERENCE RETREAT WORKSHOP:

Help! I Can’t Do It Alone! on Saturday, April 25th 2015. Please visit http://www.rccglivingspring.org for more information.

Yours in HOPE…

Yinka.

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FYI:

“Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors.

With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome”

https://www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism

 

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