GREENSBURG – April is Autism Awareness Month and the symbolic puzzle image so often associated with autism is popping up on social media all across the nation and the world in a quest to raise awareness of the disorder.
In an effort to help educate the public about autism and autism spectrum disorders (ASD), the Daily News spoke with employees at Decatur County Memorial Hospital (DCMH) to learn more. DCMH Marketing Manager Lynzee McDowell, Director of Rehabilitation Services Lisa Oldham, and Staff Speech Pathologist Johanna Painter all weighed in with their expert opinions while speaking with the Daily News.
According to Oldham and Painter, early detection and intervention are extremely important when dealing with ASD and autism. Painter added that parents should ask questions if they are concerned instead of waiting in fear of the diagnosis.
Many may hear the word autism on a regular basis but still have little idea what it actually means. According to Autism Speaks, ASD and autism are general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. These disorders are most often shown with difficulty communicating, socializing, interacting and engaging in their environment. Some people with ASD are nonverbal, meaning they can’t speak at all.
In addition, people with an ASD may show sensitivity to light and sound, problems developing relationships, trouble with abstract thought, behavioral issues similar to obsessive compulsive disorder and no middle ground when it comes to behavior because everything is at an extreme. While these are many of the common symptoms, each person with an ASD is different and may present with unique symptoms.
Some of the biggest dangers to those with an ASD are often the lack of awareness of danger, the fight or flight response that sensory overloads can trigger, and the habit of wandering. Oldham suggested parents get a medical alert bracelet for their ASD child so emergency personnel and neighbors could be aware of the child’s condition if they are separated from family.