"Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. The result of a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain, autism and its associated behaviors have been estimated to occur in as many as 2 to 6 in 1,000 individuals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2001). Autism is four times more prevalent in boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries."
Source: Autism Society of America. "What is Autism?" http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer.
Autism is a complicated disability that hinders their ability to interact and communicate. The degree of the disability differs from person to person. People with autism may show any of the following:
- Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
- Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
- Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
- Laughing, crying, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
- Prefers to be alone; aloof manner
- Difficulty in mixing with others
- May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
- Little or no eye contact
- Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
- Sustained odd play
- Spins objects
- Inappropriate attachments to objects
- Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
- No real fears of danger
- Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
- Uneven gross/fine motor skills
- Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range.
Source: Autism Society of America. "Common Characteristics of Autism" http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=autismcharacteristics.
There are also many misconceptions about people with Autism such as not being able to make eye contact, and that they can not show affection. Neither of these myths is true.
You cannot diagnose a person with autism by seeing them just once. It's more acurate to view them in a range of their normal daily activtities. The following are signals that a child may have autism, but is not certain.
- Does not babble or coo by 12 months
- Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
- Does not say single words by 16 months
- Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
- Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age.
Source: Autism Society of America. "Diagnosing Autism" http://www.autism-society.org/site/PageServer?pagename=autismdiagnosis.
ASA's Free Online Course on Autism
Be sure to visit our Autism links page
to visit many other helpful sites that will help you learn more about autism.