People with autism have trouble communicating. They have trouble understanding what other people think and feel. This makes it very hard for them to express themselves either with words or through gestures, facial expressions, and touch.
A child with ASD who is very sensitive may be greatly troubled — sometimes even pained — by sounds, touches, smells, or sights that seem normal to others.
Children who are autistic may have repetitive, stereotyped body movements such as rocking, pacing, or hand flapping. They may have unusual responses to people, attachments to objects, resistance to change in their routines, or aggressive or self-injurious behavior. At times they may seem not to notice people, objects, or activities in their surroundings. Some children with autism may also develop seizures. And in some cases, those seizures may not occur until adolescence.
Usually, people with autism show uneven skill development. They may have problems in certain areas, especially the ability to communicate and relate to others. But they may have unusually developed skills in other areas, such as drawing, creating music, solving math problems, or memorizing facts. For this reason, they may test higher — perhaps even in the average or above-average range — on nonverbal intelligence tests.
Symptoms of autism typically appear during the first three years of life. Some children show signs from birth. Others seem to develop normally at first, only to slip suddenly into symptoms when they are 18 to 36 months old. However, it is now recognized that some individuals may not show symptoms of a communication disorder until demands of the environment exceed their capabilities. Autism is four times more common in boys than in girls. It knows no racial or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, or educational levels do not affect a child’s chance of being autistic.
Many people confuse Asperger’s syndrome with ASD. These children don’t have a problem with language — in fact, they tend to score in the average or above-average range on intelligence tests. But they have the same social problems and limited scope of interests as children with autistic disorder.
Because autism runs in families, most researchers think that certain combinations of genes may predispose a child to autism. But there are risk factors that increase the chance of having a child with autism.The advanced age of the mother or the father increases the chance of an autistic child.
When a pregnant woman is exposed to certain drugs or chemicals, her child is more likely to be autistic. These risk factors include the use of alcohol, maternal metabolic conditions such as diabetes and obesity, and the use of antiseizure drugs during pregnancy.
Exactly why autism happens isn’t clear. Research suggests that it may arise from abnormalities in parts of the brain that interpret sensory input and process language.Researchers have no evidence that a child’s psychological environment — such as how caregivers treat the child — causes autism.Many people see autism in a positive light. It’s right that Autism is a serious disorder that can interfere with every aspect of life, but there are positive traits as well. For example the savant abilities (about which we’ll talk later).
One of the good traits is that autistic people don’t lie. We all claim to value the truth, but almost all of us tell little white lies. More significantly, many neurotypical people actively hide important truths from the people around them. People on the autism spectrum, however, tell the truth—whether it’s positive or negative.
People on autism spectrum live in the moment. Some see the beauty that others miss, though they pass by it every day. They often see through such surface appearances to discover the real person.
Autistic people are passionate. They are truly passionate about the things, ideas, and people in their lives. They spend the time, energy, and imagination necessary to truly master their area of interest, and they stick with it even when it’s difficult, frustrating, or “uncool.”
Autistic people rarely judge others. They don’t care if you’re fat, rich, smart, or pretty.