How to Help Autistic Individuals
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), commonly known as “autism,” is a complex developmental disability and a lifelong condition. Autism can cause persistent challenges in social interaction, speech and nonverbal communication, and restricted or repetitive behaviors.
The effects of ASD and the severity of symptoms are different in each person. Many subtypes of autism are caused by different combinations of genetic and environmental influences. The most obvious signs of autism tend to appear between ages two and three. In some cases, it can be diagnosed as early as 18-months. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and often change over time. People with ASD are at greater risk for some medical conditions such as sleep problems, seizures, and mental illnesses.
There is often nothing about how the appearances of autistic individuals that sets them apart from other people, but autistic individuals may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most people. Several factors may influence the development of autism, often accompanied by sensory sensitivities and medical issues—gastrointestinal disorders, seizures, or sleep disorders—as well as mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and attention issues.
People with autism often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with autism also have different ways of learning, attentiveness, or reactions. The National Autism Spectrum Disorder Surveillance System report estimates autism’s prevalence as one-in-66 children in Canada, including one-in-42 boys and one-in-189 girls. ASD is also three to four times more common in boys than in girls, and many girls with ASD exhibit less obvious signs compared to boys.
There are many ways to help those with autism. A main way is donating to reliable organizations and charities, or spreading awareness. However, there are many fake organizations and charities that try to trick people and for donations. When looking for reliable organizations and charities, do research on them before donating. Some reliable organizations and charities for autism include: The Asperger / Autism Network (AANE), Autism Research Institute, and Autism Canada.
The AANE aims to assist individuals on the autism spectrum, including their family members, partners, and professionals throughout their lifetimes. Any donations received go to helping the network provide information, education, support, and advocacy to adults, families, friends, and professionals.
The Autism Research Institute conducts scientific research related to the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of autism. It aims to improve the lives of those with ASD by providing new research to those on the spectrum, their families, and medical professionals. The money received from donations go towards conducting autism-related research, supporting the research of partner organizations, and providing information and education to those it would benefit.
Autism Canada is a large non-profit organization which aims to “see the potential in people living with autism” and to “see and respect the person as an individual first” in all that it does. Donations go towards funding research, education, and services to benefit those on the autism spectrum as well as their families.
“20 Autism Charities Worthy of Your Donations 2020.” Applied Behavior Analysis Programs Guide, 2020, www.appliedbehavioranalysisprograms.com/best-autism-charities.
“Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Mar. 2020, www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/facts.html.
“What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?” Psychiatry.Org, American Psychiatric Association, Aug. 2018, www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/autism/what-is-autism-spectrum-disorder
“What Is Autism?” Autism Speaks Canada, www.autismspeaks.ca/about/about-autism. Accessed 7 June 2021.
“What Is Autism?” Autism Speaks, Autism Speaks Inc., www.autismspeaks.org/what-autism. Accessed 7 June 2021.