What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

What is Autism? That’s a great question. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects communication.

In recent years, the medical community has dramatically changed its approach to autism. Those changes have resulted in many people who previously would not have been diagnosed with autism. They have also led to a number of therapeutic approaches that have helped people with autism coexist with neurotypical people. One of the reasons this has been helpful is the increased awareness of autism among the general public.

Autism is a so-called spectrum disorder. That means people can have some or all of the signs of autism, but in varying degrees of intensity. Some symptoms of autism include

  • Deficiencies in speech
  • Deficiencies in social communication
  • Repetitive (obsessive or compulsive) behavior

Those symptoms can seem very broad. You may notice it in babies

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Do not respond to their name
  • Not responding to or making facial expressions

You may notice it in toddlers

  • Not playing interactive games
  • No shared interests
  • No gestures like hello or goodbye
  • Don’t point things out
  • Not noticing when others are hurt
  • No group play
  • Physical delays
  • Cognitive delays

You may notice it in toddlers

  • No imaginative play
  • No singing, dancing or acting
  • Cognitive delays
  • Physical delays

People of all ages can show an intense interest in things. They are allowed

  • Line up toys or objects
  • Wanting things a certain way
  • Focus on parts instead of the whole
  • Echolalia
  • Following certain routines
  • Getting angry at small changes
  • Stimming
  • Sensitivity to sounds
  • Sensitivity to textures


Autism cannot be cured. However, it is possible to help people with autism adapt more to a neurotypical world. However, the goal of early intervention is not only to force people with autism to adapt, but also to give their parents, carers and educators the tools they need to adapt to the person’s specific individual needs with autism.

One treatment for autism is ABA therapy. ABA stands for Applied Behavior Analysis. It is designed to get people with autism to respond in ways that are considered socially acceptable by the mainstream. It can be a controversial therapy. Some people think it results in masking behaviors that increase stress for people with autism. For other people, it can be critical.

Co-occurring conditions

Many people with autism also have other neurological conditions. Which may include

Treating those conditions can help people with autism thrive.

Knowledge Center Neurology – Autism Spectrum Disorder

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