Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects the way a person communicates, interacts with others, and processes sensory information. It is a spectrum disorder, which means that it affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. Autism comes from ‘autos’, the Greek word for ‘self’, and a person on the autism spectrum is often referred to as someone who lives in a world of his own.
Some common traits of autism include difficulty with social communication and interaction, repetitive behaviors or routines, and sensory processing difficulties. For example, a person with autism may have trouble understanding social cues, such as body language or tone of voice. They may also engage in repetitive behaviors, such as flapping their hands or repeating words or phrases. Some individuals with autism may be hypersensitive or hyposensitive to sensory stimuli, such as loud noises or bright lights.
It is important to note that autism is not caused by bad parenting or environmental factors. Instead, research suggests that genetics may play a role in the development of autism, although the exact causes are not yet fully understood.
Individuals with autism have unique strengths and challenges, and with the right support and resources, they can lead happy, fulfilling lives and make meaningful contributions to their communities.
Autism in Singapore
Autism is a growing concern in Singapore, with an estimated 1 in 150 children diagnosed with the disorder. One of the biggest challenges facing families with autistic children is the lack of understanding and awareness surrounding autism. Many people still believe that autism results from bad parenting or environmental factors, which can lead to stigma and discrimination against families and children with autism.
April celebrates Autism Awareness Month with events and activities organised to raise awareness and promote understanding of autism. This is part of efforts aimed at creating an inclusive society where individuals with autism are accepted and valued for their unique abilities, and to grow resources to help support families of children with autism in Singapore.
How can we show support?
Despite the challenges of parenting a child with autism in Singapore, hope and support are available. By working together to promote understanding and acceptance of autism, families of children with autism can find the support and resources they need to help their children thrive. As adults, we can show more compassion to families and children with autism in several ways by educating both ourselves and our families. Here are some examples on how parents in Singapore can help their children understand autism and interact with their autistic classmates:
Educate your children about autism: Parents can educate their children about what autism is and how it affects individuals. This can help children to develop empathy and understanding towards their autistic classmates. Parents can take the time to explain that some children with autism may have difficulty with communication or social interaction. There are also books or online resources available to help explain autism in a child-friendly way. Check out the videos below together with your children.
Model positive behavior: Parents can model positive behavior by first examining themselves. Are we first accepting and inclusive towards individuals with autism in our own lives? Our children can learn from us and take cues in how we interact or talk about those with autism. Secondly, they can encourage their children to include their autistic classmates in play activities or to communicate with them in a respectful and understanding manner. They can also challenge any negative attitudes or stereotypes about autism that their children may encounter. This can help to create a culture of acceptance and understanding among children.
Encourage communication: Parents can encourage their children to communicate with their autistic classmates, even if it may be challenging at first. Parents can also role play how to ask their autistic classmates to play together, or how to share toys with them. They can also encourage their children to be patient and understanding when communicating with their autistic classmates.
Participate in autism awareness activities: Parents can bring their family to participate in autism awareness activities, such as the annual Autism Awareness Month in April or The Purple Parade in October which is Singapore’s largest movement that supports inclusion and celebrates abilities of persons with disabilities. By attending these autism awareness events or participating in online campaigns with our children, not only are we showing solidarity, it also facilitates our own understanding and acceptance of autism.
By educating the children, modeling positive behavior, encouraging communication, and participating in autism awareness activities, parents can help their children understand and interact with their autistic classmates in a positive and inclusive manner. This can help to create a more accepting and understanding society for individuals with autism in Singapore.Bottom of Form
Here are some videos on teaching and creating awareness about autism to our children: