Sadly, in the Philippines, the numbers remain undetermined.
So what is autism?
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
Early communication skills and level of cognitive functioning are the two things that parents need to look out for. The earlier the kid is diagnosed, the better chances of helping kids be more functional.
Now there are a lot of misconceptions about autism and that is what we want to address here. We were lucky to have Dr. Maria Isabel Quilendrino (Developmental and Behavior Pediatrician) and
Dr. Rita Grace Villadolid (Child Developmental Pediatrician) to tell us more about it.
People with autism do not want to make friends. This is not true. They have problems with social skills which makes it more challenging for them to participate in social gatherings. They are simply socially awkward. They need to be taught how to make friends in a different way.
Some people have also said that people with autism do not feel emotions. People with autism actually feel emotion, they are just unable to express their emotions the way other people do. They also have a hard time understanding emotions and lack understanding of verbal cues which could lead to their perception being different from others.
People with autism have low intelligence. While this may be true for some, this does not apply to all. It varies, just like with ordinary persons. It is also not true that they are specifically talented in a certain skill set. This is what pediatrician's refer to as the "Rain Man" myth.
Autism cannot be outgrown. This is true. This is a lifelong condition and any kid who has it will carry it to their adulthood. They may be able to learn how to handle it and be fully functional but autism cannot be outgrown. Though it cannot be cured, it can be treated and people with autism can live a normal life.
Autism is NOT caused by bad parenting. Once again, this is a genetic disorder. This is also not caused by vaccination.
Symptoms start showing up from 10 months onward so if you see something off or different with your child, consult your pediatrician. 80% of the time, a parent's instincts will always be right so trust it.