What is Autism?

What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder that affects an individual's communication, social, and interpersonal skills. For individuals with this neurological disorder, their normal brain development supporting communication and social skills are impaired. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD). The symptoms of ASD often vary depending on the individual, and usually appear within the first three years of a child’s life.

Autism facts

Although characteristics of this condition vary among different people, some of the common features of autism include the following:

  • Impaired social skills – Individuals with autism may respond and interact with others in abnormal ways: they may be rude and offensive when interacting with others. However, in other cases of autism, the individual can be clumsy and lack coordination. In severe forms of this condition, the individual may lack an interest in others. They may not become fully involved in conversations with others.
  • A lack of empathy – People with this disorder fail to empathize because they are unable to empathize naturally; however, this quality can be improved over time. Individual's with autism find it difficult to keep the conversation going, exchange ideas with others, and express their feelings with an individual without this disorder. Moreover, they tend to talk about themselves more often, when compared to others.
  • A dislike physical contact – Many children with ASD do not like intimate contact, such as cuddling and other physical expressions of love. They may enjoy hugging their loved ones. An unexpected tickle or a hug can trigger a negative response, compared to individual's who do not have autism.
  • Affected by sudden noises and light – Sudden noises and bright lights may affect children with this disorder in a negative way. Most of the time, they feel shocked when changes beyond their norm occur. 
  • Impaired speech – Depending on the severity of this condition, children with ASD may have impaired speech. Some of them may not speak at all, while others may repeat words and phrases that they hear. 
  • Predictability – This is a quality that people with autism prefer. Repetitive behaviors, whether it is in movement or drawing a picture, is common among children with ASD. They prefer to have a strict routine without much flexibility and prefer to do things in the same order throughout the day.

Children with this disorder often show fast cognitive development, when compared to the development of their social and communication skills. Certain individuals with ASD may have mild characteristics, while others may have severe forms of this condition. Reaching the root of the problem at an earlier age will help children with ASD to reach their full potential.