Alice Han, Journalist/Editor

Autism affects millions of people around the world. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (CDC), it’s estimated that 1 in 44 kids have Autism in the United States, which means over 75,000,000 people have it.


Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. ASD has a wide range of conditions characterized by challenges, social skills, repeating behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. Autism is affected by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. People who have ASD have different strengths and difficulties. They have a range from highly skilled to severely challenged when doing tasks, so some people would need more help. Some side effects influenced by ASD, are sensory sensitivities and medical issues such as gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures or sleep disorders, and mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, and attention issues. 


Normally, people can figure out if someone has ASD when they’re about two to three years old, but you can tell earlier. When a baby doesn’t make eye contact or tries to avoid it, there is a possibility that they have ASD. Also, at 9 months old, and your child doesn’t respond to their name or show expression, there’s also a possibility. At 12 months, your child doesn’t play simple games and doesn’t make any gestures. Then at 15 months, they have no interest in others. When your child is 18 months old, and not showing you anything, and 24 months old, and doesn’t realize when someone’s hurt or upset. And once someone is 36 months old, and doesn’t pretend to be something else. Later, when they are 60 months old and don’t sing, act, dance, etc. That means if a baby does any of these actions, there is a high possibility that they have ASD. Though, most of the symptoms improve over time.


ASD can affect many people in different ways. Some people have trouble with social interaction, and making friends, and are often overwhelmed by new things. This means that it is sometimes difficult for people to be in a relationship. On top of that, many people experience depression, anxiety, and phobias. Others, excessively worry and have to deal with rumination, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and hyper-vigilance. Some people avoid certain things, have rigid routines, and are resistant to change. While others have stimming and self-injurious behavior. 


People with ASD have restricted or repetitive behaviors that affect them in many ways. For example, when they line up toys or other objects and get upset when the order is changed, repeat words or phrases over and over (echolalia), plays with toys the same way every time, are focused on parts of objects, and get upset over minor changes, has obsessive interests, must follow certain routines, flaps hands, rocks body, or spins themselves in circles or has unusual reactions to the way things sound, smell, taste, look or feel. Those are some of the behaviors that happen with someone who has Autism. 


You may be wondering how someone has ASD. Well, it tends to run in families, so it’s inherited when a child is born. The inheritance pattern is unknown, but it’s accepted that abnormalities cause it in brain structure or function. It is found that there are differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children who have Autism. People who have gene changes associated with ASD, normally inherit an increased risk of developing ASD, rather than the condition itself. 


When we see someone with Autism, we obviously should be respectful. Others should be kind and generous, not judging them, and accepting them no matter what. Also, it’s important to be patient and positive because they may have some difficulties with certain tasks. Lastly, don’t yell or be irritated at them, and show them your love!  


ASD is not controllable, so if you have the disorder, it stays with you for the rest of your life. Although Autism can affect someone in many ways, everyone should still be respectful and include them no matter what. Hopefully, you learn more about ASD and know how to act around someone who has Autism.