World Autism Awareness Day: Living with autism

World Autism Awareness Day: Living with autism

Autism affects millions of people around the world. Here is what you need to know about the condition. 

Mother and son with down syndrome blowing bubbles
Mother and son with down syndrome blowing bubbles/ iStock

Approximately 2% of our population is affected by ASD, states the South African Government in a 2018 report. 

Autism Speaks organisation defines the condition as 'a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech, and nonverbal communication'. 

The organisation reports that among the most common co-occurring conditions with autism are: attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and depression, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, and sleep disorders. It also states that boys get diagnosed with autism four times more often than girls. 

READ: We found the most beautiful explanation of autism

Symptoms as stated by NHS include:  

not responding to their name

avoiding eye contact

not smiling when you smile at them

getting very upset if they do not like a certain taste, smell or sound

repetitive movements, such as flapping their hands, flicking their fingers or rocking their body

not talking as much as other children

not doing as much pretend play

repeating the same phrases

not seeming to understand what others are thinking or feeling

unusual speech, such as repeating phrases and talking ‘at’ others

liking a strict daily routine and getting very upset if it changes

having a very keen interest in certain subjects or activities

getting very upset if you ask them to do something

finding it hard to make friends or preferring to be on their own

taking things very literally – for example, they may not understand phrases like "break a leg"

finding it hard to say how they feel. 

READ: My child is different, not less— Raising a Child with Autism

To better cope with autism, it is important to eat well, exercise, get enough rest, drink plenty of water, and have complete access to healthcare, including regular physical and dental check-ups, states Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Dr Maggie Mojapelo, CEO and founder of Mediwell Digital Health, says: “It is not a disorder, it is autism spectrum condition. Just like diabetes is not a disorder, just like depression, they don’t say depression disorder. It’s a condition and we are bringing the positivity out of autism. 

"Some of the autistic people in the world are the ones that make history like for instance it is said that Bill Gates is in the spectrum, Albert Einstein who discovered the light equation, he is on the autism spectrum and we can go on and on,” she says.

Read more about what she had to say here. 

Image courtesy of iStock/ @SeventyFour

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