Autism and Social Media

Autism and Social Media

DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-4020-5.ch001
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Social media appears to be an easy and popular platform where parents of autistic children can connect and share their experiences with other families of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Although modern societies are becoming more isolated and less communal, social information systems provide modes of virtual communication. Social media has become a valuable way to communicate and interact. Communities in the age of the internet have adopted social media to interact with their members. Individuals diagnosed with ASD often exhibit co-occurring sensory processing problems, which present them with difficulties in social settings and communications. Families with members diagnosed with autism rely on community support to reduce depression. Families can connect to other members of the community for knowledge on dealing with autism. Social scientists have found links between social support and individual wellbeing. The autism blogger community provides extensive social support to its community members through social media platforms like blogs and Twitter.
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ASD, also referred to as pervasive developmental disorder, comprises a range of conditions, including autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, pervasive developmental disorder, Rett’s disorder, and childhood disintegrative disorder (CDC, 2014). Autism, as one of several ASDs, can be diagnosed by various symptoms. Kanner (1943), a child psychiatrist, published his first account of 11 children with a pattern of abnormal behaviors that differed from any previously reported in clinical literature. Kanner (1943) named the condition autism. Asperger (1944), in his pioneering paper, published a more detailed concept of autism. Both the pioneering work of Kanner and Asperger helped people understand the behavioral and conditional aspects of autism.

In 2012, prevalence of ASD in the United States 1 in 68 children or 14.7 per 1,000 eight-year-olds (CDC, 2016). Figure 1 is snapshot of the 2016 Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) community report on ASD. ASD occurs in all ethnicities; boys are four to five times more likely to have autism than girls (CDC, 2014). People with ASD show no unusual abnormality other than different ways individuals with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn (NIDCD, 2012). An ASD diagnosis includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately, such as autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called ASD. People with ASD can have a broad range from gifted to severe challenge of learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities. Many individuals diagnosed with ASD need help in their daily lives.

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