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World Autism Awareness Day

World Autism Awareness Day is an internationally recognized day on 2 April every year, encouraging Member States of the United Nations to take measures to raise awareness about people with Autism Spectrum Disorder throughout the world. It was designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution.

Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that manifests itself during the first three years of life. The rate of autism in all regions of the world is high and it has a tremendous impact on children, their families, communities and societies.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and autism are both general terms for a group of complex disorders of brain development. ASD is a neurological disability and people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.

The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely impaired.  Some people with ASD need high support (a lot of help and intensive intervention) while others need low support (less help and less intensive intervention).

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, Verbal and nonverbal communication, Repetitive behaviors and differences in sensory perception.

There are currently no reliable prevalence studies indicating figures in South Africa (due to stigma, lack of access to medical interventions, under-diagnosis, over diagnosis, cultural misperceptions; etc.). A leading researcher in South Africa based at UCT estimates that approximately 2% of our population is affected by ASD.
Autism can be managed.

Support measures include putting structure and routine into place, managing sensory differences via occupational therapy or sensory integration therapy. There are many intervention strategies e.g. applied behavioural analysis, TEACCH, behavioural interventions and so on.  Some individuals respond well to bio-medical interventions such as a change in diet, and others don’t.
The theme of World Autism Awareness Day 2018 was ‘Empowering Women and Girls with Autism’.

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