5 Facts About Autism That You Need To Know

5 Facts About Autism That You Need To Know

Autism is becoming more and more common, but many still do not know much about the disorder.
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April 2nd was Autism Awareness Day, and though the developmental disorder is becoming more and more common, many still do not know much about Autism. I have been around, and worked with those with disabilities for as long as I can remember. It is so rewarding to me to be such an influence in someone's lives, and sometimes be the only voice that they have.There are many unique things that I have learned about Autism along the way, and in recognition of Autism Awareness Day - sit down, and become aware.

1. Autism is more common in boys than girls

In the three years that I have worked solely with those on the Autism spectrum, I have never met a girl with Autism. Don't get me wrong, they do exist. Dakota Fanning does a great job in playing an autistic teenager in the movie "Please Stand By." Still, it is not very common.

2. Researchers have found that children with Autism have a larger amygdala

Your amygdala is the part of the brain involved with emotion. It is believed that the larger amygdala size may influence the difficulty many on the spectrum have with communicating and understanding emotions.

3. Many with Autism experience heightened sensitivity

If you ever met someone with Autism, you may notice that they are keen on touching or loud sounds. This is because many with Autism are highly sensitive to stimulation, and may refrain from hugging or touching because of this sensitivity. This further contributes to coming off as not keen on common social behaviors.

4. Autism is not one thing. It is a spectrum, and not every mental disability is Autism

There are many levels of Autism, and difficult people experience different symptoms of Autism or different intensities. As well, not everyone you see that has a mental disability, has Autism. There are many other mental disabilities other than Autism, and there and many other causes of mental disabilities, like brain injury.

5. Many researchers are considering labeling Autism as a personality type rather than a disability

I really like the idea of viewing Autism as a personality type, rather than a disability. I have met so many intelligent and talented children (and adults) with Autism that I have no doubt will live fulfilling and successful lives. Many of the current knowledge, or lack thereof, about Autism, lead parents to beleive that their child is limited. I believe those with may have more opportunity for success than us typical people might.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram

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To The Girl That Will Move Into My Freshman Year Dorm Room

It's only a 15x11 foot room, but it's home.

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To the girl who will live in my freshman year dorm room,

When you walk in on move-in day, people will come flying in behind you with boxes of all your stuff so you will have no time to take in this empty, white-walled, what seems to be the smallest thing you've ever seen, dorm room. You'll imagine for a second what it will feel like to come home to after a long night in the library or to share late night talks with your roommate from her bed that's 10 feet away.

As you start to put your things away, you'll realize that you've brought way too much stuff. You'll tell your parents that you want to loft your bed to the highest stilt (because you never got a bunk bed when you were little). You'll put your desk under your bed and hang string lights over it so it feels like you're sitting under the stars. I know, I did it too.

It's hardwood floor in there. Get a rug. It's the best decision I ever made. It's a pillow when you come home from your first exam and just want to lay down and cry but can't make it to the bed. It's a perfect spot when all your friends come to eat pizza and watch a movie (the best kind of Saturday night) and they won't all fit on your bed. It's where you'll lay with your roommate and watch "One Tree Hill" all hours of the night because the WiFi doesn't reach to your bed that is 10 feet in the air. It's where you'll sit to spread out all your homework and wonder where in the world to start.

While buying new decorations is one of the most exciting things about coming to college, bring something from home. It feels a little more like home when you walk in the door to a canvas that has hung on your wall since sixth grade.

After about two weeks of falling out of your lofted bed or climbing/falling out for an 8 a.m. chemistry lab, you'll realize that you don't wish you had a bunk bed when you were little anymore. You'll realize that it's not worth it, and you and your roommate will try to move all your furniture around but it will just result in now a very unstable bed, the serious need of a shower, and scratches on the floor that you hope the RA doesn't notice at the end of the year.

Sharing a room freshman year is seen as a nuisance. But don't take it for granted. Soon, you'll wish that you could lay in the dark again and chat about how you're dropping out because you'll never pass chemistry. You'll soon wish that life was as simple as "Hey, can I eat your chocolate pudding? I'm craving it." You'll soon wish that you could lay on that rug all night watching "One Tree Hill" together telling Brooke Davis that she better just go back and tell Julian that she loves him too because we all know she does. You'll soon miss coming home to the question, "How was your biology exam?" because even though the exam was terrible, it warms your heart that someone noticed how much you've struggled all week and you know she was listening when you said, "I'm going to drop out before this exam on Friday," like a billion times.

Don't be scared to hang up pictures of your family and friends from home. No one is going to think you're still living in high school, everyone misses home. You'll make new friends, you'll take new pictures but keep the old ones up, too. It's not just about where you are, but where you came from too.

Everyone will tell you, "Just get through freshman year and then you can live in an apartment. It's only one year in a dorm." But don't.

Don't just bear through it. Enjoy it. It's the only time you'll live there. It will probably be the only time you lay next to that person that was a stranger six months ago and babble about how you are dropping out because you'll never figure out a major. It will probably be the only time you'll sit on a rug and cry to "Safe Haven" while shoving pizza in your face in this tiny little room. It'll probably be the only time you have to get a running jump and use to a stool just to get into your bed. It'll probably be the only time that your closet is smaller than your kitchen cabinets at home and you learn that "dressing to impress" doesn't even matter that much. While it's just a 15x11 room, it'll teach you more than you could ever know and it's the best place on Earth.

Freshman year is a journey. It's a struggle. It's a joy. It's the time of your life.

And I'm telling you, don't take this room for granted.

It's home for a year and it's the best home. Enjoy it, my friend.

Cover Image Credit: Yahoo

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Sociolinguistics Series: Part 49

Language is a powerful tool.

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Welcome back! We made our way to a meeting with Dr. Shikaki, a Palestinian demographer--basically, that means he takes polls to see what the population's opinion is. It also means he can see how the opinion changes, as the polls started decades ago.

Again, as I talk about his message, keep in mind that this is his unique narrative, and it is different from other narratives out there--both on the Palestinian and Israeli side. He does give a very factual talk, though, due to the nature of his job. He essentially takes all the narratives of everyone else to craft a blanket-statement narrative; however, we should keep in mind that blanket-statements are almost never 100% accurate.

In addition, because he is able to write the questions being asked in his polls, there could be certain narratives left out. Of course, if you've taken any statistics class, you know about nonresponse bias and other biases that come out of censuses and samples. To my knowledge, Dr. Shikaki's polls are only in the West Bank, so Gazan Palestinians aren't even included here.

The first thing he tells us is that a majority of Palestinians in the West Bank are dissatisfied with their government, the Palestinian Authority. The approval rating for the PA is only about 20-25%, and 80% of Palestinians surveyed said that the government is corrupt in some way. A large group of secular Palestinians said that they support the liberal values that are associated with democracy, such as press freedom, gender equality, minority rights, and most importantly, regularly-held elections.

Over the last 10 years, the percentage of Palestinians who support a democratic political system (because they are dissatisfied with the current corruption, as the current system is not giving them a very high standard of living) rose to over 80%.

Some liberal social values are not as widely accepted because many of these liberal values are a very Westernized way of living, and Arab culture differs from Western culture in many ways; neither is better than the other. However, Palestinians do want the freedom of press and less corruption in political parties. Currently, they do not think they have an independent judiciary.

Dr. Shikaki explained that Palestinians can be split, for the most part, into "nationalists," who are mostly secular, and "Islamists," who are mostly religiously observant and non-secular. Nationalists believe in a separation of the church and state, and they are first and foremost Palestinians (compared to Islamists, who are first and foremost Muslims--and Palestinians second). Fatah is the largest political faction within the nationalists.

Within nationalism, there are mainstream nationalists and leftist nationalists. The overwhelming majority of nationalists are mainstream nationalists. They believe that though there is a separation of church and state, there should be cooperation between the state and religion; both can work together. It is not an antagonistic relationship. 55% of the entire Palestinian public would identify with mainstream nationalism (15% would identify with leftist nationalism, and 30% would identify with Islamism).

The smaller section of nationalism is leftist nationalism. They believe that the state can eradicate the importance placed on religion if need be. On the other end is Islamism, which believes that state and religion cannot be separated. Parliament cannot rule in a way that is opposed to Islamic rule and Muslim values. Again, they are first and foremost Muslims, and after that comes their identity of Palestinians and Arabs.

They show more support for a rule by Hamas in the West Bank because Hamas tends to have similar values as them. In the West Bank, about a third of the population supports Hamas over the PA. In Gaza, there is higher support for Hamas, and Hamas was actually democratically elected after the second intifada.

The public in the West Bank sometimes blames nationalists for corruption, and since nationalists are associated with the current government, Hamas could actually win a popular vote right now--which is why the PA has been holding off elections (which, to Palestinians, is another sign of corruption).

Now that we've seen how Palestinians view themselves, we need to see how Palestinians view their Israeli neighbors--and how they view the possibility of peace. It's a lot to unpack, so this concludes this chapter, and I will be talking about it in the next section!

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