Today marks the ninth annual World Autism Awareness Day. Every year, individuals and organizations around the world come together to celebrate the day with unique fundraising and awareness-raising events. Today, many organizations will Light It Up Blue #LIUB, and many people will wear blue to support the necessities and aspirations of people living with autism. However, today, we must also recognize that autism exists each day of the year in growing numbers. Though we wish to increase autism awareness today, the necessity, especially in Africa, extends past awareness. Kenya, in particular, lacks a strong commitment to individuals affected by autism or similar disorders.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects many aspects of development. ASD is mostly referred to as the having a triad of impairments because individuals affected shows impairments in social interaction, impairment in communication and presence of restricted, repetitive and stereotyped behavior pattern, limited interests and activities (rigid thinking).
Signs of autism appear early in life, usually before the age of 30 months. Individuals with autism may have different variations of symptoms and may be affected in varying degrees. On March 27, 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data on the prevalence of autism in the United States. This surveillance study identified 1 in 68 children (1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Once considered rare, autism and pervasive developmental disabilities are now thought by some to be the third most common form of childhood disability. Every child who is touched by autism symptoms is unique, just like any other child. Because there are no medical tests yet for diagnosing autism, diagnosis is made based on a set of behaviors. An accurate diagnosis must be based on observation and evaluation of the individual's communication, behavior, and developmental levels.
Currently, there is no known cause for Autism. However, the dominant theory supported by research findings suggests a genetic predisposition which may then be triggered by various environmental factors (e.g. environmental toxins, chemical exposure, etc.). Although there is no known cure for Autism, early intervention can improve prognosis and outcomes. Parents are strongly advised to learn the signs of autism and act early because early intervention does make a difference. Early Intervention Services (0 – 3 years) is an intensive one to one teaching technique using behavioral methods (Applied Behavior Analysis or “ABA”) for children under 3 years old. One of the highly recommended evidence- based treatment method for Autism is Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Applied Behavior analysis is a scientifically validated approach to understanding behavior and how it is affected by the environment. Through decades of research, the field of ABA has developed many techniques for increasing useful behaviors and reducing those that may cause harm or interfere with learning.
Parents should remember that every child has his or her own unique combination of strengths and needs. It’s important to understand what your child’s strengths and needs are, and develop an individualized program plan that best meets the needs of your child and your family. What works well for one child may not be the appropriate approach for your child. There are three important steps parents should take to address their child’s needs and set the foundation for appropriate services and supports: Gather Information about Treatment, Be open-minded but skeptical of treatment and Know your rights.
Free Beginner's Guide to Autism Spectrum Disorders: https://app.box.com/s/fydzvne58vc1jvfpsq2tjnxo184d486l
Today encourages the need for Autism Awareness, and Cam Autism Center of Excellence joins this important initiative. However, one day is not enough. We must all pledge to allow each individual living with autism to progress on an efficacious pathway, without hindrances to advance his/her qualify of life.
By Mary Kimari - Chief Operating Office, Cam Autism Center of Excellence
Cam Autism Center of Excellence (CACE) is a non-profit organization registered and incorporated in United States and Kenya. The company was founded in 2016 by a Doctor/BCBA and a parent of a child with autism who worked in tandem to create and execute realistic, high-quality, low-cost training programs with the goal of improving the potential of people with autism and related disorders.
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