Autism Awareness Month 2021: Understanding Autism and Orthopedics
Autism spectrum disorders are the most common developmental disabilities, affecting 1 in 54 children across all races and ethnic groups.
Because of the widespread prevalence of autism and autism spectrum disorders, April marks World Autism Awareness Month 2021. Since its beginnings in the 1970s, spring has been a time for everyone to come together and spread awareness of the condition and support people living with autism as they strive to reach their full potential.
2021 marks an important change, though. Although Autism Speaks, one of the leading autism advocacy groups, maintains April as World Autism Awareness Month, the Autism Society, which launched the first efforts to promote autism awareness nationwide, has officially shifted the name of the month to Autism Acceptance Month, to better align the focus toward creating change and fostering understanding and acceptance for people with autism.
As leaders in general and pediatric orthopedics on Long Island, South Island Orthopedics is committed to providing the exceptional care that all patients deserve. With a strong connection between multiple orthopedic conditions and autism, their providers are committed to supporting autistic patients and the autism community in accessing the orthopedic care and treatment they need in a comfortable, home-like environment.
South Island Orthopedics is Committed to Awareness and Acceptance for National Autism Awareness Month
Autism is most widely known for the variety of cognitive and behavioral issues that it can cause. However, those living with autism and autism spectrum disorders, like Asperger’s syndrome, may also experience one of several different musculoskeletal and orthopedic problems.
For example, research shows that people with autism and autism spectrum disorders are more likely to have scoliosis, which causes a curve in the spine that looks like a C or an S. Other common orthopedic conditions among those living with autism include:
- Toe walking
- Reduced bone density
- Increased risk of fracture
- Gait and coordination disturbances
In some cases, orthopedic issues help with an ASD diagnosis. Although many children walk on their toes or the balls of their feet when they first begin walking, most outgrow the habit by age two or three. Children who continue walking on their toes after that point should have an evaluation to determine why. Sometimes, it’s just a habit they need to outgrow.
Other times, toe-walking is a sign of an underlying condition like autism. It could also be due to other diseases like cerebral palsy or muscular dystrophy or a short Achilles tendon that doesn’t allow the heel to reach the ground. The variety of possible causes for toe-walking underscores the need for early intervention for any child who shows signs of an orthopedic issue. Most of the orthopedic concerns associated with autism are also linked to other underlying conditions, which can be treated and managed to reduce pain and complications.
Treating Pediatric Orthopedic Conditions
Whether an orthopedic issue is related to autism or other congenital or degenerative conditions in children, orthopedic treatments can help improve mobility and quality of life. Orthopedic providers can also provide information, tools, and resources for caregivers to help better understand and support their child’s care.
Treatment options for children vary from braces and supports to surgery and medications. Leg braces and splints help promote a normal gait, or the doctor may suggest a series of casts to help bring the toes and shin into proper alignment. Physical therapy is another common treatment for pediatric orthopedic problems associated with autism spectrum disorders.
Scoliosis may also require wearing a brace for treatment. Although small curves are often left untreated, as they can correct while your child grows, more extreme spinal curves might require bracing. Extreme spinal curves that don’t respond to bracing may require surgery.
Preparing Your Child for a Visit to South Island Orthopedics
We are committed to providing the best orthopedic care possible for your child during Autism Awareness Month 2021—and every month. Our staff and team of providers will work with you to ensure that your child is as calm and comfortable as possible during their visits.
To help ensure that the experience is as positive and successful as possible, keep these tips in mind:
- Discuss your child’s needs with the staff and doctor before the appointment. We can make accommodations for the visit to ensure everyone’s comfort.
- Talk to the doctor about previous experiences, and share what has been positive and what has presented challenges or caused negative experiences.
- Ask for an overview of the typical visit procedure so you can prepare your child beforehand with social stories and role-playing. Practice as much as you can at home.
- Prepare a list of questions or concerns before your visit so you can keep the visit focused.
- Bring necessary comfort or sensory items with you to the visit.
We want to know what works best for you and your child, so let the team know about the strategies you use at home (deep breathing, counting, familiar phrases, distraction, etc.), so they will understand what you’re doing and use similar methods. It may also be possible to make changes to the environment or flow of the visit to ensure everyone is as comfortable as possible.
Get the Orthopedic Treatment You Need at South Island Orthopedics
South Island Orthopedics believes that quality of life is vital for all patients. We are committed to helping autistic patients of all ages live healthy, fulfilling lives and to providing care that recognizes them as individuals and accepts them as they are. We are proud to show our support during National Autism Acceptance Month and are here to serve Long Island families for all of their orthopedic needs.
If you or your child needs orthopedic care, request an appointment. You can also reach out to our Woodbury location by calling 516-364-0070 or the Cedarhurst location at 516-295-0111.
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