What Is… Autism? Signs, Facts, and Resources

What is Autism? Autism Spectrum Disorder characteristically presents itself in an early childhood marked with struggles in areas of communication, sensory and social interactions. ASD is a neurological disorder with multifaceted developmental issues attached, accompanied by repetitive behaviors and restricted interest.

What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) characteristically presents itself in an early childhood marked with struggles in areas of communication, sensory and social interactions. ASD is a neurological disorder with multifaceted developmental issues attached, accompanied by repetitive behaviors and restricted interest.

The following information was gathered from Interactive Autism Network:

The first ever clinical account of the disorder was published by Dr. Leo Kanner in 1943. Dr. Kanner, who developed the first child psychiatric service at a U.S. hospital, described a group of 11 children – eight boys and three girls – who had “autistic disturbances of affective contact.”

Dr. Kanner based his report on direct observation, and much of what he set down has stood the test of time. He vividly depicted the essential features of autism, all of which are echoed in current-day diagnostic manuals. It is interesting to note that, just as in Kanner’s study, the rate of autism in males continues to be much higher than the rate in females.

Problems with Communication

Autism tends to affect children in various capacity; categorized as a pervasive developmental disorder. People with autism difficult time with communication and are inclined to have a social (pragmatic) communication disorder.

All children with autism have social communication problems. But, not all children with these problems have autism.

Sensory Processing Difficulties

People with Autism also have difficulties with sensory processing issues sometimes called sensory processing disorder or SPD. SPD affects the different senses in various capacity.

Individuals with ASD tend to have challenges with sounds, smells, and textures of being over-responsivity or under-responsivity. Other senses such as balance and taste can also be impacted.

Social Interaction Issues

Autism contributes to struggles with social interactions and engagement throughout the lifespan not just in childhood, however, with proper early intervention you can learn to manage your symptoms and with appropriate coping techniques. Autism seems to limit the amount of interest one may have.

Signs May Include:

  • Difficulty understanding nonverbal cues
  • Learning disability
  • Severe delays in speech or communication such as Echolalia
  • Unable to self-advocate
  • Seeking or making loud noises
  • Lack of awareness
  • Self-regulatory behavior such as stimming, hand flapping or spinning
  • Struggles with sleep or sleep issues

Facts About Autism:

The following facts were gathered from Autism Speaks:

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
  • Around one-third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one-third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.

Treatment for Autism?

There is NO cure for Autism and Autism is not something you will outgrow, but with early intervention will help with symptoms significantly improve.

  • Scientists agree that the earlier a child receives early intervention services, the better the child’s prognosis. All children with autism can benefit from early intervention, and some may gain enough skills to be able to attend a mainstream school.
  • The most effective treatments available today are applied behavioral analysis (ABA) and occupational, speech and physical therapy, which have proven to be the most effective.

Resources Available for Autism

This interactive, "out of the box" event is dedicated to building a strong community and empowering individuals on the autism spectrum.
Autism Speaks
Autism Speaks is dedicated to promoting solutions, across the spectrum and throughout the lifespan, for the needs of individuals with autism and their families through advocacy and support.
Autism Society
The Autism Society is the nation's leading grassroots autism organization. Autism Society works to increase public awareness about the day-to-day issues about people across the spectrum.
Autism Science Foundation
The Autism Science Foundation’s mission is to support autism research by providing funding and other assistance to scientists and organizations conducting, facilitating, publicizing and disseminating autism research.
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Children and adults with autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder, have problems with communication and social skills. Speech-language pathologists, or SLPs, can help.
Aspire inspires and serves people on the autism spectrum, believing in the gifts of the uniquely wired mind. We are a group of clinicians who are passionate about collaborating with people on the autism spectrum.

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Bea Moise, M.S.
Beatrice Moise, M.S., BCCS., is a Mom to Awesome Jacob and Marvelous Abigail. Board Certified Cognitive Specialist, Parenting Coach at Southeastpsych.com. She is the creator of A Child Like Mine, LLC created to help parents of children with behavior issues and unique needs on the Autism Spectrum. Follow her on twitter @Bea_EsioM & @AChildLikeMine


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