What Is Autism?
Autism is a developmental disability, third most common in the U.S., considered the result of a neurological condition affecting normal brain function. The exact cause is unknown. The disorder affects 1 in 68 individuals (1 in 42 boys) nationwide. As a spectrum disorder, individuals have a varied set of issues and require differing levels of assistance. In general, children with autism exhibit characteristic symptoms that include:
- impaired social interaction
- impaired communication
- restricted interests
- repetitive behaviors
Persons with autism may fail to respond to their name and often avoid eye contact with other people. They have difficulty interpreting what others are thinking or feeling due to challenges in understanding social cues, such as tone of voice or facial expressions. Many have a reduced sensitivity to pain, but may be abnormally sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation.
What Is Asperger’s Syndrome?
Like classic autism, Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects a person’s ability to communicate and relate to others. Common effects of the disorder include:
- Trouble understanding social cues and conversational language styles
- Inflexible routines or rituals
- Repetition of movements or words and phrases
- Difficulties with fine motor skills and sensory integration
- Persistent preoccupation with objects or narrowly focused topics of interest
What Is PDD-NOS?
Pervasive Developmental Disorder-Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS) is the term used to identify a condition that shares the same central features as autism, yet does not meet all the criteria for an actual diagnosis of autism or Asperger’s Syndrome. While learners with a PDD-NOS diagnosis may present as being “less affected” than the learner with autism, the course of intervention generally parallels that of an autism diagnosis.
Warning Signs for Autism
If you notice these signs, seek professional assessment.
- Children may not play with others or with toys in a typical manner, rather they may prefer to play alone or play with toys the same way all the time.
- Verbal and nonverbal communication skills may be delayed in development, such as eye contact and gestures to communicate needs, waving goodbye or pointing at a desired object.
- Children may have an extreme resistance to change of any kind, preferring to maintain a routine environment and rigid schedule.
- Children may have unpredictable behavior and hyperactivity (e.g. staring at hands or flapping arms and hands, walking on tiptoes, rocking, tantrums, unusual postures).
- Children may have poor judgment and may be at risk for endangerment, such as running out into a busy parking lot.
For a free assessment: For 0-2 yrs old, contact Help Me Grow 216-698-7500. For 3 and above, contact your local school district.
Some content for this page taken from the OAR website.