With summer a few months away and spring vacations starting galore, autistic children may require some extra attention when it comes to helping them cope with an air flight experience. Flying is frightening enough for the average child; those with certain sensitivities may find it nearly impossible to get through the first time around. Forcing a child through that experience may then cause irreversible trauma.
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Today is World Autism Awareness Day, wherein we spread awareness about life on the spectrum and celebrate the little quirks that make us and our autistic children so special. Today all the proud mamas and papas put up pictures of their autistic little ones, knowing the strength of will it takes to fight against a world that doesn't understand why they are so different. For me, it is a day to celebrate the genius that can be born out of autism. After all, just like a popular meme now depicts, if it weren't for autistics like Einstein, we might still be living in caves and lighting fires for warmth.
The causes of autism are still a mystery and the risk of giving birth to an autistic child is way too high, wherein 2013 numbers show that 1 in every 50 children, while the latest Center for Disease Control and Prevention study states the number is actually 1 in every 68 children. The latter figures are not representative of the whole of the United States however, nor the rest of the world, as it only took into account the diagnoses of 8 year old children from 11 different communities.
Whereas most children are diagnosed on the spectrum from the age of 24 months and older, certain tools exist that allow specialists to identify autism in children as young as 12 months old. Many parents would love to know from such a young age instead of fretting about their little ones not reaching their milestones. Is it really worth it however?
One meme that circulates around the internet says, "you were given the manual for a Honda/Ford, but ended up with a Ferrari," in reference to the life a parent leads when rearing a child diagnosed with autism. The fact is that an autistic child is no different than a neurotypical in its basic needs and desires, including for parental love and acceptance. At times, with all the hardships and obstacles that one may face when living with autism, those on the spectrum may be exceptional in their abilities, whether or not they are considered savants.
School was never easy for the typically developing populations, let alone for autistic children. Often, a child's inability to learn a certain way has had teachers and peers viewing the student as inept, and lacking in intelligence. How wrong they are! Every child learns in a different manner, some holding better memories, others requiring hands-on experience to retain certain information. But what exactly defines intelligence?
One of the most valuable, life-changing referrals I make for my patients with Autism Spectrum disorder is to the Developmental (or Behavioral) Optometrist. It seems to catch parents and teachers by surprise, and yet pays significant benefits for the child.
Male children are over 4 times more likely to be diagnosed on the spectrum than females, a prospect which has baffled the general community for years. Why is it that one gender is better able to fend off a disorder? Does it mean that the mutation does not exist, but that it is so subtle, it is nearly impossible to detect? A study of late has proven the biological makeup of a person does indeed provide the means to protect one against the effects of certain mutations.
Fathers are as important in their children's lives as mothers, though should not leave off parenthood too late. They provide the role model for what their sons should grow into, or what not to, as well as being the image in which a daughter chooses her husband, or the exact opposite. A good father will have both genders of children striving to either be like or surround themselves with individuals who resembles him. However, the older the father gets, the higher the likelihood that his offspring may have some form of disorder affecting learning and behavior.