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Autism Awareness Week is Here!

As of yesterday (March 26) until April 2, Autism Awareness Week offers it support for people with the developmental disability. And if you're planning to watch Channel 4's one-hour special: 'Are you autistic?, you may soon find that you become much more aware of the condition and the challenges people who have autism face on a daily basis.

We'll first look at what autism is...

The NHS states that autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is "a name that covers a range of similar disorders that affect a person’s interaction, communication and behaviour. " It's worth knowing that Asperger syndrome is included in this range.

In a lot of cases, symptoms will present themselves before the age of three, but often, people with autism won't achieve a diagnosis until much later. And with an estimated one in 100 people in the UK with an autism spectrum disorder, awareness weeks like this one are helping more people get a handle on what is an incurable but manageable condition.

According to the makers of the channel 4 programme, autism is at an all-time high here in the UK, with people with the condition experiencing cognitive, learning, emotional and behavioural problems.

Is there a way to tell if your child has autism, then? Here are just some of the signs to watch out for?

  • frequent repetition of set phrases or words
  • monotonous or flat-sounding speech
  • communication which makes use of single words, despite the fact your child can speak in sentences
  • delayed speech development (speaking less than 50 or so words by the age of two)
  • rejecting cuddles from a parent or close relative
  • reacting negatively if asked to do something
  • not responding to their name being called
  • sensory difficulties, such as sensitivity to light, smells or sounds
  • preferring to play alone (some parents with autistic children say their child enjoys 'lining up their toys' in colour order, or even taking apart a favourite toy - a fidget spinner, for example - only to put it back together again).

There are many other signs to look out for - and it's worth knowing that there are other conditions closely associated with an autism spectrum disorder. These include learning disabilities, Tourette's syndrome or other tic disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), epilepsy, or dyspraxia.

How can you help a child with autism?

If you suspect your child has autism, it's important you make an appointment with your GP to discuss the options available to him or her. You may find that your little one benefits from separate treatment, like cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), too.

It's vital you do your best to understand the condition, doing all you can to create an environment your child feels comfortable to be himself in. RelaxKids.com suggests some relaxation techniques, and you may find that a soothing bedtime routine helps your little one, too.

Do you have a child with autism? Or do you suspect your child has the condition? Why not head to our Facebook page to share your tips with other parents?

Disclaimer: If you are allergic to any of the ingredients listed in the products mentioned, do not consume them. Always check with your doctor before trying a new medication or regime, and if irritation or allergy occurs, stop using the product or medication immediately and seek medical advice.

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