THERE is need to increase the understanding and acceptance of people with autism, says Autism Speaks president and CEO Angela Geiger.
She said the organisation was pleased to see an increase in awareness of autism.
Autism Speaks commissioned a national survey on myths, misconceptions and attitudes about autism spectrum disorder.
The findings are compiled in the 2018 Autism Speaks Special Report, issued on Monday to coincide with World Autism Awareness Day and the start of World Autism Month.
To round out the picture, more than 2,000 people affected by autism shared their stories in a new interactive Story Mosaic.
Together, the stories, photos, videos and survey create a fuller picture of the diverse autism spectrum.
The research firm Abt Associates surveyed approximately 1,200 people across the country last month about their understanding and perceptions of autism spectrum disorder.
The survey found that 55 per cent of respondents said they or an immediate family member had autism, or that they know someone who does.
Those who know someone on the spectrum had a more accurate understanding of the ways in which autism may affect different individuals.
“We’re pleased to see an increase in awareness of autism,” said Geiger. “But we know that we need to increase the understanding and acceptance of people with autism, and provide additional solutions that enable children and adults on the spectrum to live their best possible lives.”
The survey highlights some areas where resources and opportunities are lacking.
For example, the survey found broad public support for independent living and employment opportunities for people on the spectrum; however, the vast majority are unemployed or underemployed.
Even though most people know someone with autism, certain misconceptions persist.
The survey found that familiarity with someone on the autism spectrum is associated with fewer misperceptions and more positive insights.
The Autism Speaks Special Report reveals common beliefs about autism, and provides information to dispel the myths and explain the facts.
Aimed at increasing understanding and acceptance, World Autism Awareness Day, sanctioned by the United Nations, is April 2.
It begins World Autism Month, with activities around the globe.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, refers to a broad range of conditions characterised by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviours, speech and nonverbal communication.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children is on the autism spectrum.
According to the statement, there is not one autism but many subtypes, and each person with autism can have unique strengths and challenges.
Most are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental influences, and many are accompanied by medical issues such as GI disorders, seizures and sleep disturbances.