Growing up with Autism

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Updated: Aug 21, 2023
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Autism is a profound spectrum disorder; symptoms, as well as severity, range. It is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in America. For every 68 children born in the United States, 1 is diagnosed with a neurological development disorder that impairs their ability to interact and communicate on what we constitute as normal levels. Autism is multifaceted; it affects the brain development of millions worldwide. Not only are those diagnosed on the Autism Spectrum facing difficulties, but the family members and friends surrounding and supporting them are also affected.

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There is no cure for this illness, but there are plenty of specialists, behavioral therapies, and medications to assist individuals in gaining control over their lives. Evidence from research shows that early intervention on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder

has shown to have a greater effect on their communication, brain development, and the severity of their autistic symptoms over their lifespan. In the first few years of life, it can be very difficult to pinpoint an autistic child. Children on the autistic spectrum tend to experience ‘regression,’ or a decline in social skills and cognition, between or a little after ages 1 to 3. Some agree that exposure to a virus, possibly through vaccination, can be responsible for the regression in a child’s brain development. Researchers believe that genes and the environment contribute largely to advancements in Autism. Dysfunctional and self-stimulatory behaviors appear around toddler age and there is a common quality of preservation and consistency. Children on the autism spectrum can have a difficult time adapting and coping with change. They may insist on wearing the same or specific type of clothing, insist on eating and drinking the same meals, throw uncontrollable tantrums, experience hypo/hyperactivity, show an insensitivity to pain, participate in self-injury and have poor response mechanisms, attention deficits, and poor eye contact. Sometimes it can be very difficult to diagnose an adolescent with autism because every child develops differently, sometimes parents are in denial, and sometimes children’s symptoms can contribute to another kind of mental illness. ASD is diagnosed using at least 6 developmental and behavioral characteristics described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. If a child’s behavior and growth level fit within the mentioned criteria, it is very important to begin treatment as soon as possible to treat and improve their brain development, academic achievement, functional limitations, and their social and work-related performance.

Parents of children with autism can sometime exhibit overwhelming feelings of stress, anxiety and maybe relief when their child is diagnosed with ASD. They are in search of direct answers and life changing remedies. They make life changing decisions and even vow to cure and stand by their child. Through online testimonies, blogs, interactive organizations, research and even literature, parents and guardians of autistic children have the opportunity to connect and build a supportive community to protect, teach and learn with their child. Tracy Beadle, a mom of two autistic children, shares her testimony on Ambitious about Autism., she shares that it’s okay for you [parents] to cry, to question, to feel frustration and to be angry. She encourages parents to take all help offered and to shout vigorously for more. (Source:

On websites such as and, there is a considerable amount of literature available aimed at helping caregivers, guardians, and custodians properly care for individuals with autism. While there is currently no cure for autism, effective treatment options are available. These treatments include medications, diets and supplements, and various educational and behavioral therapies. Approximately 50 percent of people with autism take prescribed medication to treat conditions and symptoms often found among individuals with autism. These conditions include attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety disorder, self-injury, aggression, and seizure disorders.

Antipsychotic drugs, typically used to treat psychotic symptoms seen in individuals with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and other mental health disorders, are also used. Antidepressant drugs do not only treat depressive disorders, but are also effective treatment for anxiety disorders. Stimulants primarily treat the ADHD; many children with autism display similar symptoms of inattention, overactivity, and impulsivity, making stimulant medications a common treatment. Anticonvulsants are used to treat seizures, which afflict as many as one-third of children with autism.

Behavioural, educational, and family therapies can greatly reduce symptoms and support development and learning. These include anger management, where children practice mindfulness, coping mechanisms, and trigger avoidance to minimize destructive emotional outbursts. Family therapy, a type of counselling that helps families resolve conflict and improve communication, is also effective. Applied behavior analysis is a teaching method that encourages positive behavior and helps autistic children learn socially significant skills. Behavior therapy focuses on modifying harmful behaviors associated with psychological distress. Telepractice employs high-speed internet, webcams, Skype, and other communication technologies to provide speech therapy from a remote location. Sensory processing handles the way the nervous system receives messages from the senses and translates them into appropriate motor and behavioral responses. Lastly, animal-assisted therapy uses animals to enhance the physical, emotional, and social well-being of individuals.

Through observations of my cousin, Tennille, who has autism, I can personally attest to the wonders of ABA therapy. Tennille was a full-term baby, delivered with no complications. As a baby, she was healthy and her motor development was within normal limits for the major milestones of sitting, standing, and walking. At age 2, Tennille knew around ten words but didn’t use them functionally. She communicated through nonverbal means. Tennille made requests primarily by reaching for her parent’s hand and placing it on the desired object. She lacked social skills, had trouble making eye contact with listeners, and usually played by herself at daycare. This prompted her teacher to recommend she be tested. After being diagnosed with Autism, she was provided ABA therapy ten hours a week at home. For two hours each day, behavioral analysts focused on labeling, requesting items and food, identifying body parts, and common objects. Tennille’s parents also developed communication goals for her at home. In the past years, Tennille has made considerable progress. She demonstrated more interest and awareness of her surroundings and began approaching other children and initiating interactions with them. Her vocabulary and enunciation both greatly improved. Her attention span improved and she became more able to stay focused on lessons. She’s very observant and is much quicker to respond to requests. With ABA and speech therapy, she became a totally different person. Her mother reported that she was much more relaxed overall and was much more pleasant to be around. Though ABA therapy worked wonders for Tennille, it might not be for everyone. Some children might require a more intensive approach.

Organizations like Disney have stepped up and made changes to their programs, providing access to guests with disabilities. I believe on a federal level, a policy is already in effect to help many children diagnosed with autism get the medical coverage in order to get the proper autism treatment. As a society, we need to do more, not stigmatize people with autism or people with any disability. It seems as though once you have a disability, that’s all you have. Society has to stop isolating people with disabilities, making them seem as though they are less than or broken and in need of fixing.

Over a billion people live with some form of disability. People with disabilities are among the most marginalized groups in the world. People with disabilities have poorer health outcomes, lower education achievements, less economic participation, and higher rates of poverty than people without disabilities. Disability is now understood to be a human rights issue. People are disabled by society, not just by their bodies. Disability oppression and marginalization is the process of pushing a particular group or groups of people to the edge of society by not allowing them an active voice, identity, or place in it. Through both direct and indirect processes, marginalized groups may be relegated to a secondary position or made to feel as if they are less important than those who hold more power or privilege in society.

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Growing up With Autism. (2021, Aug 02). Retrieved from