The 1st – 7th of April is autism awareness week. And in an effort to help develop understanding, we have collated information explaining the symptoms and impacts of this disability. In this article, we also explore the treatment options and the role that pharmacies play in supporting autistic patients and their families/loved ones.
What is autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder which affects a person’s perception and communication. It is often characterised by restricted or repetitive thought and behaviour patterns. In the UK alone, there are approximately 700,000 people who have been diagnosed with the disability.
As a spectrum condition, people with autism will experience the disability differently depending on where they fall on the scale. This means that although all autistic people share certain difficulties, some have more severe cases than others.
A formal diagnosis typically requires a multi-disciplinary team so as to assess the various aspects of a person’s speech and psychology. Getting a diagnosis is important for autistic people as it helps both them and their loved ones understand why they have been experiencing the difficulties symptomatic of the disability and raises awareness of how they can manage them. Crucially, it enables them to gain access to a variety of services and support.
Is there a cure for autism?
Autism is a lifelong disorder and there is currently no known cure. However, there are still measures which can be implemented in order to help people living with the disability. The first port of call is to increase people’s understanding of autism. This ensures patients and their families/loved ones are aware of the core and peripheral symptoms and how each can be managed.
People with autism have access to behavioural treatments, such as occupational therapy or speech therapy, as well as medication to manage the associated medical conditions. These conditions include anxiety, sleep disturbance and obsessive-compulsive disorder. While the autism itself cannot be cured, the peripheral symptoms can be addressed.
What role can pharmacies play?
As with many disabilities, it is not just the patient that is affected. In both a clinical and community sense, pharmacists are well-placed to impart valuable support to autistic patients and their family/loved ones. Increasingly, pharmacists are able to assess treatment options for the peripheral symptoms of autism, including insomnia, anxiety and attention deficit disorders. Pharmacy staff can also help improve people’s perceptions of the medication being prescribed and work to increase medication adherence.
Healthera can help connect patients with their pharmacies, enabling better communication and the ability to order and manage medication for dependents. To find out more, click here.