What is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairments of the ability to form normal social relationships, the ability to communicate with others, and the engagement of abnormal behavior. Autism has a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism. Autism occurs four times more often in boys than in girls.
Children and adults with autism tend to have problems in three specific areas: communication skills, social skills and restrictive and/or repetitive behaviors. Communication skills, such as, spoken language may be delayed or lacking. A child with autism may also have a deficit in social skills, such as limited eye contact, little or no interest in peer relationships and the lack of make-believe play. Restrictive and/or repetitive behaviors for those affected by autism may include repetitive use of language and/or motor mannerisms (i.e., hand-flapping, spinning in circles or twirling objects), or fixation on parts of objects (i.e., wheels on a car or fascination with ceiling fans).
Autism is treatable. Children do not “outgrow” autism, but studies show that early diagnosis and intervention lead to significantly improved lives.