A conversation with psychologist Joanna Grochowska, vice president of the Synapsis Foundation.
April is coming to an end. It is autism awareness month. Establishing it is to raise public awareness of the developmental disorder. How much do we already know about autism?
Public awareness and knowledge of the autism spectrum is already far greater than it was 30 years ago. However, it is still the case that the average person has often not heard at all, and if even heard about autism, this knowledge is very often based on false beliefs, myths and stereotypes. It seems to me that all activities that aim to transfer knowledge, to raise this awareness, are extremely important. The more we know as a society, the better we will be able to understand people on the autism spectrum, and thus better support them.
We know that with autism are associated disorders of communication, interaction with other people. Abnormal behavior also appears. What is this caused by?
We don't really know what the causes of autism spectrum are. We know that they are neurodevelopmental disorders with a genetic basis, while there is no one gene or one group of genes that is responsible for the spectrum appearing or not. Research is still going on and there is information that the spectrum is linked to some genes, but there are many. Therefore, no genetic tests can help us diagnose autism spectrum and explain the cause. What we do know for sure is that the nervous system, especially if we are talking about the brain, develops differently, receives information differently and processes it differently. As a result, it builds a slightly different picture of the world. Different doesn't mean inferior. Just different. I said that there is no gene that is responsible for the autism spectrum, and this is true. On the other hand, the genetic factor is clear, because there are families where there is more than one person on the spectrum.
There are also an increasing number of autism diagnoses. What is the reason for this? Are there indeed more and more of these disorders, or were they simply not recognized before and the child was said to be different, naughty or withdrawn?
I think this is due to several different factors. We have different diagnostic crite...