The number of autism diagnoses at the moment are climbing higher every year. So much so that it’s being described by many as an epidemic. The media are indeed paying attention to this. But there is one particular word that many reports are including, which still continues to give us misconceptions. Many are reporting autism as a childhood developmental disability.
That single word can do so much. Describing autism as a childhood condition gives the suggestion that autistic adults don’t exist, and therefore don’t require any support or funding. It also suggests that autism is a temporary condition in children, and that they don’t need as much support and therapy as they actually do. So the question that arises is ‘Once we become adults does that mean that we become neurotypical”?
The answer is that autism is not a disease, so it cannot be cured. It’s more rather an alternative wiring of the brain. So it’s present from birth and remains so for life.
Yet autism can appear to wear off as a child grows older. That is indeed true, despite all that was mentioned above. So more questions arise here such as “Is it true that children outgrow their autism”? or “If an autistic child functions better with age, were they really autistic to begin with”?
The answers to those two questions are that most children are diagnosed correctly with autism, their characteristics usually do appear to lessen with age, but the fact remains that the autism itself can not diminish as they grow. So what does all this mean?
Well we can indeed learn life skills habitually, preferably if we’re fully willing to and can work at our own pace. This is why early intervention is very important when it comes to autism. The reason being that we’ll have much more time, and much less pressure to learn those skills to our best ability. I am quite disappointed that my own case was one of those situations where I missed out on early intervention, although it’s not impossible to make those same changes in adulthood. But even so, it is more difficult because much more needs to be done in a short space of time, and many changes to our comfort zone and routine need to be made. Autistic people almost always despise that. Thus for us to make those kinds of changes in adulthood we must be very willing and motivated to do so.
Despite how much habitual learning makes us function better in our daily lives, the autism itself does not lessen from birth. This is because the skills we learn are habitual and not natural. Nevertheless habits can become almost instinctive when we perform them over a long stretch of time.
It is also true that every one of us with autism is different, and some of us will have more difficulty in certain areas than others. In my own case I get a lot of anxiety when it comes to my routine changing and that is a major hindrance for me. However, regardless of how well each and every one of us do, our efforts will always pay off because we’ll know we’ve given all our best, and we’ll function better than we would have done otherwise.
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