The Aspies For Freedom (AFF) organization first celebrated Autistic Pride Day on June 18, 2005. After that, this day of every year dedicates to Autistic Pride Day for people with Autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This day gives the freedom of Autistic people to celebrate their neurodiversity and feel proud of being Autistic. One of the most striking characteristics of Autistic Pride Day is that the event organizers are also people with autism, showing their ability to defend themselves.
The rainbow infinity symbol is the symbol of Autistic Pride Day. This symbol represents the diversity of the autistic community, as autistic people have a wide range of perspectives, capabilities, and opportunities.
Autism Pride Day aims to highlight human rights, particularly the right to live according to one’s terms. According to this community, it should be okay for autistics to have repetitive actions freely, communicate in their way, and not feel intimidated about fitting in the society.
Let’s understand what autism is and what are their neurodiversity?
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that comprises various challenges, including stimming (repetitive actions and movements), social interaction, restrictive interests, and communication (both verbal and non-verbal). The signs and symptoms of autism start appearing during the first three years of a child’s life.
Autism is a complex and highly variable condition. Some autistic people are slow in some fields but superior in other areas. The symptoms of autism start appearing after the age of six months and fully develop by the age of 2 to 3 years.
Causes of autism
The precise reason for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is still unknown. According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), genetics and environmental factors strongly influence autism development in a fetus. The following are some risk factors for ASD:
- Hereditary plays a crucial role. Having siblings or one parent with autism increases the chance of ASD in children.
- Mutation in the genes
- The age of parents, being born to an older couple, increases the risk of the development of autism in children.
- Metabolic inequality
- During pregnancy, history of a viral infection, such as cytomegalovirus, rubella, and herpes simplex virus infection.
- Intake of certain medications (thalidomide or valproic acid) during pregnancy can expose the fetus to ASD.
- Exposure to chemical toxins and heavy metals can cause ASD in children.
Symptoms of autism
The symptoms of autism start appearing during early childhood (between the ages of 12-24 months). However, sometimes they may appear later in life. The symptoms persist through adulthood without remission. Autism can distinguish by a triad of symptoms, which includes:
- Impairment in social development: It can be the main distinguishable feature between autism and other developmental disorders. An autistic person can have a wide range of social deficits, which start showing in early childhood, including:
- Autistic infants are less attentive to stimuli, smile and make eye contact less often, and are less responsive to their names.
- Unable to perform simple movements, such as hand-waving or pointing towards an object.
- They find difficulty in expressing themselves.
- They don’t get attached to others and like to stay alone
- Disengagement in simple interactive games
- Emotionless facial expression
- They make little and inconsistent eye-contacts
- They can’t distinguish other people’s emotions
- Some autistic children display aggressive behavior or destructive attitude due to emotional frustration.
- Children with high-functioning autism often feel lonely, as they can’t maintain their friendship and don’t know how to pretend things like normal peer children.
- Trouble in communication: Autistic children suffer from communication delays. They don’t develop enough continuous speech for proper interaction. The following are some problems an autistic child can suffer:
- Delay onset of vocals during the first year of life
- Having trouble with back and forth of discussion
- Having an unusual tone of voice, such as a robotic tone or sing-song dialect
- Repeats other’s word (echolalia)
- Facing trouble understanding other people’s dialect
- Repetitive behavior: An autistic child has unintentional repetitive actions, such as:
- Repetition of some words or phrases (echolalia)
- A long-lasting interest in particular topics, such as facts, numbers, or details of a subject
- Follows the same routine and becomes agitated with a slight change
- Becomes extreme focused on moving objects
- Sometimes stares blankly
- Hypersensitive to stimuli, such as light, temperature, or sound
- Autistic people have trouble falling and maintaining their sleep.
- They can be excellent at learning things in detail and excels in science, music, art, and math.
- They can remember detailed information about an incident or event for a long time.
Autistic people face discrimination and prejudice in every area, including schools, workplaces, and society. So, on this Autistic Pride Day, let’s end this stigma, as they are no less than us, and help them build the confidence of better life.