What is Autism?
When people refer to “Autism” today, they are usually talking about Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), which is a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests.
ASD is a complex developmental disability; signs typically appear during early childhood and affect a person’s ability to communicate, and interact with others. The Centers for Disease Control describes ASDs as: “a developmental disability that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges.”
ASD is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.
There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.
Autism is about 4.5 times more likely to affect boys than girls, and is found in all racial, ethnic, and social groups.
There is no known single cause of autism, but increased awareness and early diagnosis/intervention and access to appropriate services/supports lead to significantly improved outcomes.