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“Autism is a brain disorder that typically affects a person’s ability to communicate, form relationships with others and respond appropriately to the environment (” There are different levels of autism. “There is the autistic disorder, Asperger’s syndrome and pervasive developmental syndrome (” According to (, “Each situation is unique as there are many levels and severities of it. Many cases also include sensory difficulties. These can range from imaginary sights and sounds to other sensations.”

There are many different characteristics of this disability. A few of the things to watch for include, “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 babbling. Little or no back and forth gestures such as pointing, showing, reaching or waving. Little or no response to name. By 16 months, very few or no words. By 24 months very few or no meaningful 2 word phrases (not including imitating or repeating.) At any age, loss of previously acquired speech, babbling or social skills and also unusual and intense reactions to sounds, smells, tastes, textures, lights and/or colors (”

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According to pediatrician Dr. Paul Wang, “we know that toxic exposures during pregnancy and complications associated with delivery can disrupt brain processes before birth and shortly afterwards. Mutations in the genes associated with Autism can affect how the brain develops and functions starting well before birth (” I’m paraphrasing that “scientists don’t know all of the causes of Autism, but that they think that if a family member has it your chances go up, genetic disorders increase your chances and if the mother took harmful meds that could do it also(”

Unfortunately due to the wide list of symptoms, and the fact that many people exhibit these and not end up having Autism, many people go undiagnosed until adulthood. Autism is generally not fully developed very early on, yet there is a possibility that it may not until age 3. You may acquire Autism-like traits later on, but this is not Autism.

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There are many many accommodations that can be made to lessen the side effects of Autism. These include but are not limited to “closing doors to shut out background noise can be helpful, designated sensory retreat rooms provide a safe space to manage overload and give people a place to go if they need to retreat from an over-stimulating and/or overwhelming situation. These should be easily accessible but free of outside stimulation (e.g. away from elevators and escalators). Offering disposable earplugs is another way to accommodate Autistic people with sensory sensitivities to sound (” This is a short lift of helpers that can be aids when dealing with Autism.

We should treat people with Autism as equals. They are capable human beings that have struggles that can make life a little harder for them but they have a lot to offer. I have friends with Autism and it is no big deal. They are all on different levels and I know how much they can do and we can still hang out together. I also meet with Michael, the 4 year who has Autism, every Sunday. He is a lot of fun in that class.

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