What is Autism?
Autism is one of a group of developmental disabilities commonly referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which cause significant impairments in communication, socialization, and behavioral differences.
Autism is characterized by:
- Impairments in verbal and non-verbal communication
- Socialization deficits
- Repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior
- An ASD begins before the age of three and lasts throughout a person’s lifetime
- ASDs know no racial, ethnic, income or social boundaries
- There is no definitive cause or cure
- Specialized interventions can give individuals with autism the tools they require to lead full and productive lives
- Many people with ASD have unusual ways of learning, paying attention, and reacting to different stimuli
- About 1 in 54 children has been identified with ASD according to estimates from CDC's Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring (ADDM) Network.
- ASD is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls.
- As many as 1.5 million Americans today are believed to have some form of autism
There is no medical test for ASDs. Doctors look at behavioral symptoms to make a diagnosis. These symptoms may appear within the first few months of life or may show up at any time before the age of three.
Who can diagnose ASD?
- Developmental Pediatrician
- Licensed Psychologist (including a L.E.P.)
Individuals with an Autism Spectrum Disorder Might:
- Not play “pretend” games (pretend to “feed” a doll)
- Not point at objects to show interest (point at an airplane flying over)
- Not look at objects when another person points at them
- Have difficulty relating to others or not show an interest in other people at all
- Have limited eye contact or avoid eye contact with others
- Have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings
- Prefer not to be held or cuddled or might cuddle only when they want to
- Appear to be unaware when other people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
- Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk to, play with, or relate to them
- Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language (echolalia)
- Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
- Repeat actions over and over again
- Have trouble adapting to changes in routine
- Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
- Lose skills they once had (for instance, stop saying words they were once using)