Promoting Acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder
1 out of 100 children suffer a visual impairment. 1 out of 100 children have Celiac disease. 1 in 44 children are identified with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Despite the prevalence of ASD, especially compared to other maladies and disabilities, it is a misunderstood and highly maligned condition. Let’s change that.
Alongside the Autism Society of America, SmartBox is dedicating the month of April to Autism Acceptance Month. You can help us promote acceptance of ASD through your regular purchases. 10% of proceeds from our Gluten-Free boxes and collection between now and the end of April will be donated to the Autism Society of America—no promo code necessary.
What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
More than 75,000,000 people worldwide have some form of Autism Spectrum Disorder. While autism spectrum disorder is 4 times more common in boys than girls, ASD is unrelated to race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status. These numbers seem large, but it is important to keep in mind that autism presents itself in a large variety of symptoms and severity.
ASD refers broadly to neurological conditions that impact social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. No one case of ASD is the same. Some people require significant support in their daily lives, while others live independently.
Some of the symptoms of ASD can be viewed as strengths. It is not uncommon for children with ASD to experience hyperlexia (the ability to read at an early age), memorize information quickly, prioritize logic, honesty, reliability, and excel in logic based fields like science, engineering, and mathematics.
In some cases, persons with ASD can be exceptionally proficient at creative arts. Derek Paravicini is a blind, man with autism who can play any piece of music on the piano after hearing it only once.
Is There a Connection Between ASD and Diet?
While there is absolutely no evidence to support that diet causes ASD, children and adults with autism have food allergies and sensitivities at a much higher rate. “There is evidence that immune system abnormalities are associated with symptoms in a substantial number of individuals with autism,” says Dr. Alaedini, an assistant professor of medical science in the Department of Medicine and the Institute of Human Nutrition at Columbia University Medical Center, regarding a study from 2013.
From these studies, scientists have hypothesized that children with autism experience a sensitivity to gluten and casein (a protein found in milk). The body’s inability to break down gluten peptides may react to opiate receptors in the brain and exacerbate the symptoms of autism. A sensitivity to gluten can lead to malnutrition, gut damage and inflammation.
While only 1% of the population has true Celiac disease, estimates range between 6-50% of the population has a sensitivity to gluten. Most people are unaware of these sensitivities and, especially for people with autism, it can be difficult to realize the connection between not feeling well and common things we eat like bread, pastas and other wheat products.
What You Can Do to Help
The number one thing you can do to promote acceptance of autism is open your heart to love and kindness. People with ASD may see the world a little differently than you, but that does not mean they are undeserving of compassion and respect.
Recognize the symptoms of ASD for the strengths they are. A common aspect of social interactions are white lies or fibs—people with autism have difficulty with this and are some of the most honest and trustworthy people because of that.
Signs of autism can begin to appear around the ages of 2-3 years old. Keep an eye out for early signs with your family and friends. An early diagnosis can make a significant impact and lead to positive outcomes for the rest of their life with social interactions and brain development.
Healthy Snacks for Your Family
Find the complete collection of all the health improving snacks SmartBox has to offer on our online store. Don’t forget that 10% of all proceeds from our gluten-free snacks will be donated to the Autism Society of America during the month of April!