National Autism Awareness Month (Week One)

March 29, 2018

The Counseling Corner

By Rev. Judith T. Lester, B.Min. M.Th

For the month of April, this writer will bring awareness to autism. Recently a co-worker shared with me that her grandson had been recently diagnosed with autism. Her grandson is 2-1/2 years old, but my co-worker admitted she noticed developmental delays beginning much earlier. She and her husband debated whether they should mention their concerns to their daughter. Finally, they delicately broached the subject with their daughter and the daughter admitted she also had concerns, especially with her son’s ability to speak and had shared those anxieties with the pediatrician. Finally, after insisting that her pediatrician run tests, her son was tested, and later diagnosed as having autism. That story motivated me to feature Autism Awareness in this month’s column, since April is National Autism Awareness Month. These articles are dedicated to my little friend.

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), is a development disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. 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. A few facts about autism:

• About 1 percent of the world population has ASD (CDC, 2014)
• Prevalence in the United States is estimated at 1 in 68 births (CDC, 2014)
• Autism is the fastest- growing development disability (CDC, 2008)
• Costs of lifelong care can be reduced by 67 percent with early diagnoses and intervention. (Autism, 2007)

The CDC has provided several signs and symptoms of ASD. Children or adults with ASD might:
• Not point at objects to show interest.
• Not look at objects when another person points at them.
• Have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all.
• Avoid eye contact and want to be alone.
• Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings.
• Prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to.
• Appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds.
• Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play or relate to them.
• Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language. • Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions.

These symptoms outlined here are not exhaustive; space does not allow for inclusion in their entirety. Visit the CDC at www.cdc.gov and click on “Autism facts” for more information.

The CDC stresses while there is no cure for autism, early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years learn important skills. Services can include therapy to helping the child talk, walk and interact with others.

Next week: Continuation

The writer does not assume responsibility in any way for readers’ efforts to apply or utilize information or recommendations made in this article, as they may not be necessarily appropriate for every situation to which they may refer. This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your medical doctor or health care provider. You are encouraged to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have concerning blood donation and your eligibility. If you would like to contact Rev. Lester, write to her c/o P.O. Box 121, Brookfield, WI. 53008.