What Is Autism?
What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism Spectrum Disorder is a developmental disability. Children and adults with autism have differences with social communication/interaction and exhibit restrictive and/or repetitive patterns of behavior. There is a wide range of ability among people with autism. Some people with autism need significant levels of support to ensure their health and well-being while others do not. There is no known cause of autism and no singular form of assistance for autism.
People with autism have differences in the areas of social communication/interaction and restricted/repetitive behaviors. A few examples:
Social Communication/ Interaction
- Difficulty establishing or maintaining back-and forth conversations and interactions
- Inability to initiate an interaction
- Difficulty with shared attention or sharing of emotions and interests with others
- Atypical eye contact, posture, facial expressions, tone of voice and gestures, as well as an inability to understand these
- Lack of interest in other people
- Difficulties in pretend play
- Engaging in age-appropriate social activities
- Challenges adjusting to different social expectations.
- Stereotyped or repetitive speech, motor movements or use of objects
- Excessive adherence to routines
- Ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior
- Excessive resistance to change
- Highly restricted interests that are atypical in intensity or focus
- Hyper- or hypo-reactivity to sensory input or unique interest in sensory aspects of the environment
There is no single behavior that is always present in every individual with autism.
Living with Autism
Resources and Data on Autism Today
- The Autism Self Advocacy Network (ASAN) has resources for disability advocacy related to autism, along with educational material.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have additional information about autism.
- Read the full glossary of autism-related terminology.