World Autism Awareness Day: Understanding the needs and rights of children suffering from ASD

One among 68 children in the United States is diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), as per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC), Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM). To turn the focus of the world on the burgeoning problem of autism that affects millions of children all over the world, “World Autism Awareness Day” is observed on April 2 every year. Considering that autistic children face communication problems and difficulties in social interaction, it is important to raise awareness about the disorder, its early diagnosis and timely intervention.

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disability that affects a person’s perception and the way he or she interacts with others. People with autism react to situations differently, though not all may suffer from the same kind of disabilities. Researchers working on autism say, “If you’ve seen one child with autism, you’ve seen one child with autism.” While some may face issues concerning mental health and may have to toil hard to learn the same thing, others may be detected with a host of related conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, dyslexia, epilepsy along with visual and hearing impairment.

A group of National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) intramural and grant-supported researchers has suggested that tendency to delay walking is also a sign of ASD among kids. The nature of symptom is still not clear and is now being associated with a specific type of gene abnormality.

Early screening for ASD is helpful

Sometimes, it is difficult to understand why some children behave in a particular way. The difference in behavior prompts parents to get their wards checked for any kind of development disability or cognitive impairment. Though no prior researches have been able to recommend the right age for ASD screening among children, doctors recommend developmental screening from a very early age and autism-specific screenings at certain ages.

The American Academy of Pediatrics in its study titled “Early screening of Autism Spectrum Disorder: Recommendations for practice and research” advised autism-specific screenings for children aged between 18 and 24 months old. The study published in the journal Pediatrics in 2015 stressed that after the screening the children should be examined by a developmental behavioral pediatrician or a psychologist trained for early detection of the disorder.

Teaching autistic children

Access to appropriate education is a right that must be made available to all children, including those diagnosed with ASD. At times, parents of such children do not enroll them for early education due to fear of associated stigma. This necessitates the need for raising awareness among parents and guardians concerned to allow their wards to learn through interaction with others. The parents must understand that they need to encourage such children to participate in daily activities. Since these children need additional support, schools must understand the kind and nature of support they could extend to the affected students.

Autism affects parental relationships too

Spousal relationships of kids with autism are equally affected as per a study, titled “Daily couple experiences and parent affect in families of children with versus without Autism.” The study published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders in March 2017 stressed on the need to understand that there can be disruptions in parental relationships due to autistic children. The study reported a higher level of divorce or separation and lower rate of marital adjustment compared to parents of children who did not have this disability.

Treating children with ASD

It is important to monitor carefully children’s behavior before diagnosing the disorder. However, early intervention goes a long way in bringing life on the right track. If you are looking for help for your children identified with behavioral disorders, get in touch with 24/7 Mental Health Helpline for necessary information on mental health services in the U.S. Call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online for expert advice on mental health therapists in your vicinity.