April is Autism Awareness Month, which is a great time to debunk some myths about autism. Autism is caused by a perfect storm of genetic and environmental risk factors. Parents can reduce this risk by regularly taking Prenatal vitamins containing folic acid, before and at conception and through pregnancy.
Babies are at increased risk for ASD if:
Advanced parent age (either parent)
Pregnancy and birth complications (e.g. extreme prematurity [before 26 weeks], low birth weight, multiple pregnancies [twin, triplet, etc.])
Pregnancies spaced less than one year apart
MYTH: Vaccinations cause Autism.
FACT: ONLY the risk factors listed above are scientifically proven to put someone at risk for developing Autism. Read the most current research about vaccinations here.
MYTH: Symptoms of Autism look the same for every child.
FACT: Symptom presentation can vary drastically along the Autism Spectrum. This may include more severe symptoms like communication and behavioral challenges (e.g., nonverbal, flapping arms, meltdowns), or more mild symptoms like heightened anxiety and discomfort with changes to routines.
MYTH: Children with Autism cannot function independently.
FACT: Many individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) develop skills to live independently, depending on the severity of their symptoms. Check out these highly successful individuals with ASD.
By 6 months
Few or no big smiles or other warm, joyful and engaging expressions.
Limited or no eye contact.
By 9 months
Little or no back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles or other facial expressions
By 12 months
Little or no babblingLittle or no back-and-forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or wavingLittle or no response to name.
By 16 months
Very few or no words.
By 24 months
Very few or no meaningful, two-word phrases (not including imitating or repeating)
At any age
Loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills
Avoidance of eye contact
Persistent preference for solitude
Difficulty understanding other people’s feelings
Delayed language development
Persistent repetition of words or phrases (echolalia)
Resistance to minor changes in routine or surroundings
Repetitive behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.)
Unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors
Unsure if your child has ASD? Get screened and talk to your doctor.
Professional evaluation is necessary to accurately diagnose ASD and develop an appropriate treatment plan. Early intervention will determine much of the prognosis for ASD.
Family, caregivers, teachers, and community members can access support for ASD through these online resources and community organizations:
THRIVE is committed to helping individuals and their families attain their personal goals. If you need help navigating the world of ASD, we are here to help.