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What is Autism?

Autism is a biological disorder that impairs communication and social skills. It encompasses a broad range of characteristics that vary in intensity.

Individuals with autism have been described as being in their "own world". There may be serious sensory challenges that accompany autism that must be understood to fully comprehend the disorder. Some of the markers are as follows:

Absence or delay of speech and language:

  • Repetition of words (echolalia) in place of a normal verbal communication.

  • Hand leading to communicate in place of verbal requests.

  • Absence of verbal communication.

Difficulty relating to other children and adults:

  • Absence of eye contact. (When directly in front of the child, they may look in every direction, except at the individual in from of them).

  • Apparent aloofness.

  • Lack of interest in other children and what the other children are doing.

  • Lack of response to verbal requests.

  • No response when name is called.

  • Avoidance of physical contact (even with parents and siblings).

  • Indifference to others in distress or pain.

Atypical behaviors:

  • Self-stimulation, spinning, rocking, hand flapping, etc..

  • Inappropriate laughter or tantrums for no apparent reason.

  • Inappropriate attachment to objects.

  • Obsessive-compulsive behaviors i.e. lining up objects.

  • Repetitive odd play for extended periods of time. Example: stacking blocks for a half-hour at a time.

  • Insistence on routine and sameness. Difficulty dealing with interruption of routine schedule and change.

  • Possible self-injurious behavior or aggressive behavior toward others.

Sensory Challenges:

  • Hyper (over) or Hypo (under) sensitivity of the five senses (See the discussion below)

  • Abnormal responses to the senses.

  • A lack of response to pain or an over-reaction to something seemingly minor such as a door closing

There is Hope!

If you are the parent of a newly diagnosed child or a doctor, therapist, or educator learning about autism for the first time, please continue.

Autism is a spectrum disorder. On one side of the spectrum there are individuals who are mildly affected, who hold jobs and have families. There are Ph.D.s and college graduates, artists and engineers.

There are probably individuals at your work place or school who have autism and you don’t even know it. In between, there is a broad range of people.

Today, there are many more treatments and therapies available than there were ten years ago.

Keep in mind, that while all of these therapies work for some people, none of them work for everyone. Many individuals have progressed far enough to be considered "mainstream".

There are many dedicated parents, doctors, researchers and educators working hard every day with the common goal to find a cause and cure.

Work hard yourself and demand others work hard on behalf of your loved one. There is hope. Hard work and energy will pay off with tangible progress. All progress is worthwhile and important.


Believe in your child
Expect Success
Educate Yourself
Never! Never! Never give up!

Disclaimer
Autism is a complex disorder. The information presented here is, of necessity, general in nature. Please consult with a qualified professional concerning your specific questions. The opinions expressed herein are those of the individual authors.

 

 

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