Join Isabel Romero as she shares her journey in health, fitness and mental wellness. Her goal is to serve as an inspiration to others by helping all her readers achieve their personal best.
April is National Autism Awareness month. Tomorrow, April 2nd, is Worldwide Autism Awareness day. It is the day in which people across the world “Light it up Blue”.
Autism is a complex neurobehavioral disorder that includes impairments in social interaction, developmental language and communication skills combined with repetitive behaviors, and it can range from mild to severe. Individuals affected with autism tend to demonstrate unusual responses to people, attachment to objects, resistance to change in routine and aggressive or self-injurious behaviors.
My daughter was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) when she turned 2. We were very fortunate to have such an early diagnosis in order to implement intense amounts of early intervention, which is crucial in achieving gains in both language and social development. Our journey with her has not been easy. From a very early age, she had significant sensory processing issues (Sensory Integration Dysfunction), an aversion to all types of social settings and at that time could not verbally or non-verbally communicate. She was also hurting herself by biting her hands and arms to the point of bleeding. Even though her progress has been extraordinary, we are frequently reminded of just how atypical she is.
ASD is not a clear cut disorder. That is why it is called a spectrum or continuum. It affects 1 out of ever 68 children in the US. Many people who meet my daughter tell me that she does not seem “autistic”, which simply means that she does not fit the typical stereotype. At one point, I too was very uneducated/ignorant in this matter. I have met several autistic children throughout the past 3 years, and not two of them are remotely the same. In some children, loss of language is the major impairment. In other ASD children, it might be problems with motor coordination, repetitive behaviors, social interactions, sensory processing, or eye contact. One of the scariest aspects of this disorder can be that several autistic children have a desire to be alone and away from audiovisual stimuli. My daughter fits in this category and has been labeled a “flight risk” due to her tendency to quietly and suddenly disappear.
Although pediatricians will often address their observations and concerns, as parents, we are obviously exposed to a lot more of the child’s behaviors at home. For families who might be observing any of these behaviors, it is never too early nor too late to get evaluated in order to get your child the proper help. For those who do not have a child affected with autism, please have an open mind and don’t stereotype. And please, PLEASE join me tomorrow, on April 2nd for Worldwide Autism Awareness Day and wear BLUE.
Love, health, peace and happiness,