Some forms are so mild that person can live a full life with very few problems but, for others, autism is a serious disability.
It’s a big topic, but here are just a few points.
• There is no autism epidemic. Children on the autistic spectrum do seem to be everywhere, but no: autism is diagnosed more often nowadays because a wider range of conditions are now included under that label, and parents, teachers and doctors are much more aware and vigilant about autism. (I know two men in their sixties who have recently been diagnosed with autism; as children they were considered ‘just odd’ but, today, their condition would have been diagnosed much earlier).
• The assertion that vaccination causes autism has been thoroughly debunked. If you want to learn about this persistent bit of misinformation, see https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/reference/vaccines-and-autism/ .
• Early diagnosis really helps. Some parents wonder if they should bother, as autism cannot be cured. However, there are therapies and even drugs that can really help, especially if the diagnosis is made early. More than that, parents and teachers can handle a child’s challenges more readily when they understand what they are dealing with.
• Autistic children usually show signs even when babies. If you are worried your child is unresponsive, not acquiring language and not reacting to people in the usual way, then do get them checked by your doctor. If you or your partner are on the autistic spectrum, or you have other autistic children, then the odds will be higher that your child will be on the spectrum. For good information on autism, including signs and symptoms, check out www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/a-z/resource/8/autism-spectrum-disorders
• Are you on the spectrum yourself? Many people have problems communicating or learning or getting on socially who do nothave autism. But many adults are on the autistic spectrum and they benefit from getting a diagnosis. Though your doctor is a good person to start with, someone with expertise in autism can assess you more reliably, especially if you are female. (Women seem to have different symptoms).
• Autism and mental health. The challenges of autism can be stressful, and so it is not surprising that some people with autism also have anxiety, depression or other mental and emotional difficulties. That is tough, but good support, therapy and maybe medication can really help get people back to better mental health.
• Autism is considered a disability. Funding can be available to help with the challenges. Check out the Needs Assessment and Service Coordination provider (NASC).