AUTISM is a severely incapacitating lifelong developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It occurs in approximately one out of every 88 births and is four times more common in boys than girls. Autism Spectrum Disorder has been found throughout the world in families of all racial, ethnic, and social backgrounds. No known factors in the psychological environment of a child have been shown to cause autism.
AUTISM is a neurological disorder manifesting the following symptoms in varying degrees:
- Disturbances in the rate of development of physical, social and language skills.
- Abnormal responses to sensations. Any one or a combination of senses or responses are affected: sight, hearing, touch, balance, smell, taste, reaction to pain, and the way a child holds his or her body.
- Speech and language may be absent or delayed, while extraordinary or “savant” capabilities may be present.
- Abnormal ways of relating to people, objects, and events.
AUTISM occurs by itself or in association with other developmental disabilities, as well as disorders which affect the function of the brain such as viral infections, metabolic and immunologic disturbances, and seizures.
It is important to distinguish autism from mental retardation or mental illness since diagnostic confusion may result in referral to inappropriate or ineffective treatment modalities.
The severe form of autism spectrum disorder may include extreme self-injurious, repetitive, hyperactive and aggressive behavior.
A plethora of special education approaches and programs, especially early intervention, have proven to be most effective in addressing those with autism spectrum disorders.
Autism is treatable — early diagnosis and intervention are vital to the future development of the child.
The accompanying illustration portrays many of the more visible signs and symptoms of autism. If a child exhibits several or many of the symptoms shown and if a given characteristic is constant and inappropriate for the child’s age, further evaluation is recommended.
People with Autism…
MAY possess the following characteristics in various combinations and in varying degrees of severity.
- Is not responsive to normal teaching methods
- Displays inappropriate laughing and giggling
- Is echolalic (has a tendency to repeat what another person has just said)
- Has no fear of real dangers
- Hits self or inflicts pain on self
- Spins objects
- Has an aversion to being cuddled
- Is extremely active or passive
- Has an aversion to changes in routine
- Avoids eye contact
- Possesses gross/fine motor skills
- Indicates needs by gesture
- Displays an apparent insensitivity to pain
- Sustains odd play or uneven physical and verbal skills
- Displays crying tantrum or extreme distress for no discernible reason
- Has difficulty mixing with other children
- Demonstrates an inappropriate response or no response at all to sound
- Possesses a stand-offish manner
- Has inappropriate attachments to objects
More Facts about Autism
- Autism is a neurological disorder affecting brain function.
- Autism occurs once in every 88 births.
- 4 out of 5 diagnosed with autism are boys.
- 4 out of 5 diagnosed with autism are first-born.
- Autism typically appears during the first three years of life.
- Early intervention is the most vital intervention.
- Autism impairs social and communication skills.
- Autism prevents understanding of what the person hears, sees, or senses.
- Autism is an “equal opportunity” impairment – affects all racial and ethnic groups and social levels
- Autism has no known cure.
- Those with autism never stop learning.
- Appropriate education and training makes autism less disabling.
- Those with autism can lead productive lives.