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10 Interesting Facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder

10 Interesting Facts About Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

It’s safe to say that most of us have probably heard about autism. Either from a friend, or a group discussion. You might probably know someone who has it or in other cases, you might have it. But few of us really know what it entails, especially in countries like Nigeria.

It might surprise you to know that an interesting fact about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is that it affects 1 in 59 children. This was research shown in 2020 by Dr Huebner, an expert neuropsychologist at Mayo Clinic and this includes all tribes, races, regions and genders. 

Aside from this, the symptoms of this disorder come with its peculiarities, including its advantages and disadvantages making it hard to detect. In essence, most people who have it are not aware that they do. This could be dangerous. And those who eventually find out that they do, discover it at adulthood.

We will be emphasising what Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is, interesting facts about this disorder as well as its types and symptoms. But before that let’s explain why Autism needs awareness.

Autism Awareness Day (ASD)

Every year, the 2nd of April is set aside to celebrate Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) Worldwide. ASD was established by the United Nations (UN) in 2007 and to date, for 17 years, the commemoration has been kept.

The theme for this year 2024 is “Moving from Surviving to Thriving”.

This year’s theme, championed by the United Nations, emphasises the importance of shifting the focus from simply coping with autism to creating an environment where autistic individuals can flourish. 

Taking a closer look at the United Nations themes right from its date of establishment (2007), we see that the awareness they raise each year is with the intent of three things, raising awareness, acceptance and appreciation of those who have this spectrum.

This is the purpose of the (ASD) day, to ensure that awareness is not only raised but people truly get to understand how this disorder works, thereby helping in fostering Worldwide support. 

ASD should not be seen as a disability but as a different ability that requires autistic individuals to develop ways to love their brains and get the best of them.

Now, let’s discuss in full what ASD means.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurological or developmental disorder that affects how people interact with others, communicate, learn, and behave. 

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviours or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. 

Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is described as a “developmental disorder” because symptoms generally appear in the first 2 years of life.

Parents who discover this disorder early enough by the ages of 2-3 stand a better chance at helping their child have a higher level of functioning with their spectrum. Those who do not leave their children with the risk of living frustrated lives.

Research in 2023 from the CDC shows that children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are one in 36 (2.8%) 8-year-olds, according to a new report. For the first time, rates are lower for White children than for other races of autism. This is an increase from 1 in 44 ago. Since the report was recently released, the data is likely to stay the same through 2024.

The prevalence of profound autism is 76% higher for black children, 55% higher for children in Asia and other Pacific highlander backgrounds and more than a quarter of autistic 8 year olds have profound Autism in 2023. 

Did that sink?

Types of ASD

According to Dr Andrea Huebner, an expert neuropsychologist, from Mayo Clinic, the symptoms vary based on its type. The bottom line is ASD affects children differently, no two children’s conditions are the same.

Understanding the unique challenges of each type of spectrum will help better handle it. 

There are five major types of autism. They include;

1. Classic Autism (Autistic Disorder)

This is what many people typically think of when they hear “autism.” It involves significant impairments in communication, social interactions, and behaviour. People with classic autism may have delayed language development, struggle with social cues, engage in repetitive behaviours, and show intense interest in specific topics.

2. Asperger’s Syndrome (AS)

Historically considered a separate diagnosis but now included under ASD in the DSM-5, Individuals with Asperger’s often have average to above-average intelligence and may exhibit intense interests in specific subjects. They might struggle with social interactions and nonverbal communication cues but typically have better language skills than those with classic autism.

3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)

This diagnosis was used in the past for individuals who displayed some, but not all, of the symptoms of classic autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. It was often used for individuals with milder symptoms or those whose symptoms didn’t fit neatly into the other categories. In the DSM-5, PDD-NOS is no longer used, and these individuals are typically diagnosed under the broader umbrella of ASD.

4. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)

It is also called the Heller’s syndrome this is a rare condition where children develop typically for at least the first two years of life and then experience a significant loss of previously acquired skills in multiple developmental areas, such as language, social, and motor skills. It’s considered one of the ASD subtypes in the DSM-5.

5. Rett Syndrome

Another rare disorder, Rett Syndrome is typically diagnosed in females and involves a regression in skills, loss of purposeful hand movements, development of repetitive hand movements, and other neurological symptoms. While it shares some similarities with ASD, it’s considered a distinct disorder.

General Symptoms of ASD 

The general symptoms of ASD includes:

1. Social Challenges:

  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Struggles with understanding social cues
  • Limited interest in sharing experiences with others

2.Communication Differences:

  • Delayed speech development
  • Difficulty initiating or maintaining conversations
  • Repetitive or scripted language

3. Repetitive Behaviours:

  • Engaging in repetitive movements (e.g., hand-flapping, rocking)
  • Insistence on sameness or routines
  • Fixation on specific topics or objects

4. Sensory Sensitivities:

  • Heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli (e.g., light, sound, touch)
  • Unusual responses to sensory input (e.g., covering ears in response to loud noises)

5. Difficulty with Flexibility:

  • Resistance to changes in routine or environment
  • Struggles with transitioning between activities or tasks

6. Restricted Interests:

  • Developing intense interests in specific topics
  • Preferring solitary activities over social interactions

7. Hyperfocus:

  • Becoming deeply absorbed in activities of interest
  • Difficulty shifting attention away from preferred topics or activities

8. Repetitive Play:

  • Engaging in repetitive or ritualistic play behaviours
  • Preferring to play with toys or objects in a specific manner

9. Difficulty with Empathy and Understanding Emotions:

  • Challenges in recognizing and understanding others’ emotions
  • Difficulty expressing empathy or responding appropriately to others’ feelings

10. Motor Coordination Challenges:

  • Motor clumsiness or awkwardness
  • Difficulty with fine or gross motor skills

10 Interesting facts about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) 

1. You are born with Autism: 

An interesting fact about ASD is that you are born with ASD. It is not an illness, nor is it a death sentence when a person is born with Autism.

 Research indicates that symptoms may begin manifesting in early childhood (around 2-3 years old) or later in adulthood. The crux of this disorder is that the brain of an autistic person works differently from others. However, early diagnosis, especially by parents, makes it easier and more effective to manage this disorder. This could also help the child be more productive.

Desiring to live a productive life requires an individual that has the right mindset. Discover the ways to cultivate the right mind for lasting success.

2. Parents don’t Cause Autism:

Research suggests that while genetics play a role in autism spectrum disorder, they are not the sole cause of the disorder. 

According to Dr. Andrea Huebner, an expert neuropsychologist, genetics combined with environmental factors, such as parents giving birth at an older age (both male and female) or maternal illnesses during pregnancy, may contribute to ASD.

 This raises the question: At what point do genetics and environmental factors intersect to cause ASD? There are undoubtedly many questions seeking answers regarding this disorder.

3. Autism is Permanent: 

While this may sound like a point of no return, it does not signify the end of the world. Autism cannot be permanently cured because it is present from birth.

 However, early diagnosis of ASD ensures better management of the disorder, almost making it seem like it is entirely gone. Nonetheless, even after diagnosis, individuals with autism still experience symptoms and challenges associated with the disorder. The advantage of early diagnosis is that it helps the child better manage the disorder.

4. Behaviour Forms the Basis of an Autism Diagnosis:

An interesting fact about ASD is that the behaviour of the individual forms the basis of their diagnosis. There are five types of ASD: classic autism, Asperger’s autism, pervasive developmental disorder, Rett disorder, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD). Each of these types comes with its peculiarities, approaches to treatment, and symptoms.

5. Autism is Non-Discriminatory:

Another interesting fact about ASD is its non-discriminatory nature. 

According to the CDC, in 2020, the rates of ASD were lowest for White children at 2.4%, followed by 2.9% for Black children, 3.2% for Hispanic children, and 3.3% for Asian/Pacific Islander children. 

However, these statistics demonstrate that autism spectrum disorder can affect children from various backgrounds equally. There is a need for more awareness about this universal condition, one that should not be taken lightly.

6. It is Often Invisible: 

How is this possible? Two factors are involved. First, either the parents of the child during early childhood stages were not vigilant or observant enough to notice that something was amiss with their child. 

Alternatively, the symptoms, as mentioned earlier, vary from one individual to another, coming with their own merits and demerits. This implies that if the type of spectrum the child has at an early stage is more of an advantage than a disadvantage, it might go unnoticed. 

Furthermore, behaviour forms the basis of autism diagnosis. True intervention for a child with autism can only occur when the parents are aware of this fact. There is a need for more awareness about this universal condition, one that should not be taken lightly.

Talking about behaviours, do you know that the habits you keep can affect your productivity? Learning ways to develop healthy habits could help in having  a more productive life.

7. Vaccines don’t Cause Autism: 

An enormously harmful myth began in 1998 with the publication of a paper by Dr. Andrew Wakefield, claiming a connection between vaccines and autism.

The paper, published in the British medical journal The Lancet, was retracted when it was found to lack proper research methods and statistical support. 

This led to the emergence of a persistent myth about vaccines and autism, fueled by public concern over the widespread prevalence of autism at that time.

8. Having a good Understanding of ASD can help:

Understanding autism is key to effectively managing and supporting individuals with ASD. However, it’s not just about awareness—it’s also about vigilance, especially during the crucial early stages of a child’s life. Detecting and addressing developmental differences early can significantly impact long-term outcomes.

But awareness is only the beginning.Cultivating a positive mindset is essential in navigating the challenges and opportunities that come with autism. How can we make the best out of it? By discovering ways to transform a limited mindset into a limitless one.

9. Early Diagnosis Improves Outcome:

 Early diagnosis improves the outcome for children with autism. When diagnosed early, treatment can begin promptly. The safest treatment for autistic individuals is therapy. This includes play therapy, occupational therapy, applied behavioural analyses, etc. Each therapy has its peculiarities. Understanding what works best for an autistic individual is important to get the best results.

These treatments should however  commence as soon as possible to yield better results. Therapy answers 15-20% of why the individual has ASD. 

The goal is to help the child focus on their strengths, develop them, and work with specialists to improve on their weaknesses. 

Other treatments that can help autistic individuals is exercise. Learn helpful ways

10. Autism Is Diagnosed more in Males than in Females:

It’s generally true that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is diagnosed more frequently in males than in females.This is an interesting fact about ASD. However, recent research suggests that this difference in diagnosis rates may be due to various factors, including differences in the way symptoms present in males and females, as well as potential biases in diagnosis and assessment methods. Some studies suggest that females with ASD may exhibit different symptom profiles or may be better at masking their symptoms, leading to underdiagnosis or misdiagnosis. Thus, while ASD is more commonly diagnosed in males, it’s important to recognize that it can affect females.

To see more interesting facts about ASD, click here.

Conclusion

There is a need to say no to the discrimination of autistic people universally. 

More awareness needs to be raised! 

They are an added advantage to this world and contribute immensely to shaping a more colourful world. Having the knowledge that there are people who think differently than others is fascinating, and it’s something that everyone should try to understand rather than making jest of. 

In essence, our mental well-being defines our essence, shaping the very fabric of our existence. It’s imperative that we nurture and prioritise our mental health, for it is the cornerstone of our vitality and fulfilment.

Let us extend a helping hand to these remarkable minds, guiding them towards avenues of growth and resilience by helping them find ways to develop their mental health.

It’s their month!

Let’s show them some love and let them know that they are not alone.

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