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April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day – Learn the Facts, Spread the Word

April 2nd is World Autism Awareness Day – Learn the Facts, Spread the Word


April 2nd is World Autism Day. But do you know what autism is? Do you know anyone living with autism? Have you ever imagined what goes on in their mind? The video below gives you an insight into the mind of a child living with autism.

Not a lot of Nigerians or Africans, in general, have a good understanding of autism and its related issues. Because of limited awareness, in many parts of Africa when a child starts acting different, parents have no clue what the underlying issue is and it’s common to see children with autism or any other mental illness get treated as outcasts in their societies. In honour of world autism awareness day, I have compiled key facts that will give you a more in-depth understanding of the autism spectrum disorder. 

Continue reading below…

Autism spectrum disorder: Terminology, epidemiology, and pathogenesis

  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a biologically based neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in two major domains: 1) social communication and social interaction and 2) restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities, with severity based on impairments and symptoms present when social demands exceed limited capacities.
  • The terminology and diagnostic criteria for ASD vary geographically. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) is used predominantly in the United States and was updated in 2013 (DSM-5). The World Health Organization International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision (ICD-10) is used in other countries throughout the world.
  • Various studies have shown a wide range of potential prevalence, from a low of 1 in 500 to a high of 1 in 50. Further definitive investigation and diagnostic clarification may clarify this broad range in the future. The prevalence of ASD in the United States and other countries appears to have increased since the 1970s, primarily as a result of changes in case definition and increased autism awareness.
  • Intellectual disability and seizures are common in children with ASD. ASD is more common among children with certain genetic conditions than in the general population. These conditions include tuberous sclerosis complex, fragile X syndrome, 15q duplication/triplication or deletion, Smith-Lemli-Opitz syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria.
  • The pathogenesis of ASD is incompletely understood. The general consensus is that ASD has a genetic aetiology, which leads to altered brain development, resulting in the neurobehavioral phenotype. Epidemiologic studies indicate that environmental factors account for a few cases.
  • The overwhelming majority of epidemiologic evidence does not support an association between immunizations and ASD.
  • The goals of treatment are to maximize functioning, move the child toward independence, and improve the quality of life.
  • Although there is no cure for ASD, early diagnosis and early intensive treatment have the potential to affect the outcome.
  • Treatment of ASD focuses on behavioural and educational interventions that target the core symptoms. Pharmacologic interventions may be used as an adjunct to address medical or psychiatric comorbidities. Treatment programs should be monitored to ensure an appropriate response to therapy; the program should be modified as the child’s needs change.
  • The primary care provider should provide ongoing evaluation of the child’s progress, provide ongoing family education and support, screen for coexisting medical conditions, and direct families to appropriate speciality providers as needed. Close follow-up by the primary care provider is particularly important because children with ASD have decreased access to care for various reasons.

To learn more about autism and the various resources available to aid people living with the disorder, please visit

Written by Reagan A. (US-licensed healthcare provider – Psychiatric NP)

Facts culled from

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