Check out 8 myths and truths about autism

Check out 8 myths and truths about autism
Check out 8 myths and truths about autism
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This Tuesday, April 2nd, the World Autism Awareness Day. The date was created by the United Nations (UN) to give visibility, reduce prejudice and promote the inclusion of people with disabilities. autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

ASD is a disorder characterized by changes in the neurodevelopment that affect the ability to communicate, language, social interaction and behavior, according to the Ministry of Health. According to the CDC (Center for Disease Control and Prevention), the condition affects 1 in every 36 children in the world. It is estimated that two million Brazilians live with some level of autism, but many of them still do not have a diagnosis.

There is, however, a lot of misinformation regarding this topic. It is common to find several fake news about ASD, which harm those who live with this condition. Keeping this in mind, the Estadão clarifies some beliefs on the topic, pointing out what is myth and what makes sense. Check out:

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Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by changes in neurodevelopment that affect the ability to communicate, language and social interaction. Photograph: Newman Studio/Adobe Stock

Myth. Autism spectrum disorder is a condition of genetic origin for which there is no cure, medicine or treatment. When we talk about treatment, it is aimed at comorbidities that may arise from the condition, such as anxiety and depression.

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“Autism is hereditary”

Myth. Despite having a genetic origin, this does not mean that ASD is hereditary.

According to neuropediatrician Abram Topczewski, president of the Guidance Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder (Notea), which serves people with ASD in vulnerable situations, the condition is related to a genetic mutation that does not depend on family relationship and can happen to anyone.

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The expert also highlights that, in addition to the genetic cause – which is the most determining –, there are environmental factors that can increase the chances of someone having ASD. “Use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs during pregnancy, the father’s advanced age and exposure to pollution are some of them”, he describes.

“Autism can be caused by a lack of affection”

Myth. In the past, it was even considered that the lack of maternal affection could be one of the causes of autism – this hypothesis was called the “refrigerator mother theory”. Today, however, this relationship has been completely discarded and considered to have no scientific basis.

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“There are different degrees of autism”

True. There are three degrees of autism that vary according to the patient’s need for support.

At level 1, the person needs support; in 2, she needs substantial support; and, in 3, very substantial support.

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The level is determined at the time of the assessment. Throughout life, depending on possible emotional discomfort, people at level 2 can migrate to level 3 or even to level 1.

It is also important to highlight that the terms “mild”, “moderate” or “severe” are no longer used to categorize the condition.

“Laboratory tests help with diagnosis”

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Myth. ASD is diagnosed exclusively through clinical examinations, according to Topczewski. “This happens through observation and monitoring of development stages of the child by a specialist. Therefore, laboratory tests, such as blood tests, have no function”, he says.

“Adults can be diagnosed with autism”

True. As there are different degrees of autism, it is possible for the condition to go almost unnoticed for years and only be confirmed in adulthood.

“There is treatment for autism”

Myth. As ASD is not a disease, there is no cure or treatment for the condition. On the other hand, there are therapies capable of improving quality of life and promoting patients’ independence, according to Topczewski.

“It is important to have psychological treatment”, highlights the doctor. He also cites the relevance of artistic activities, sports, among others. “In addition to stimulating the patient’s development, they can awaken talents and raise their self-esteem”, he explains.

In some cases, patients with ASD may benefit from neurological or psychiatric follow-up. “There are disorders related to ASD that require professional monitoring, such as depression, anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)”, he explains.

“Children with autism should be enrolled in special schools”

Myth. It is important that children with ASD are individually monitored at school. This does not mean, however, that they should attend a school that only serves people with cognitive disorders — quite the opposite.

According to Topczewski, to stimulate the development of all children, not just those with ASD, it is essential to ensure contact with those who are different. “This way, they learn about reality and inclusion”, he points out.

The article is in Portuguese

Tags: Check myths truths autism

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