Thursday, July 24, 2008


I know there is a lot of concern and talk about autism these days. The number of diagnosed cases has greatly increased in recent history. I was doing some reading on the subject today and found what I thought to be a pretty thorough description. I decided you might like to read it as well.

Autism is a developmental disability that causes problems with social skills and communication. Autism can be mild or severe. It is different for every person. Autism is also known as autism spectrum disorders.

What are some signs or symptoms of autism?
Children with autism may have problems with movement, communication, social skills, and reacting to the world around them. Not all behaviors will exist in every child. A diagnosis should be made by the child's doctor or other professional with experience in working with children with autism.

  • Problems learning to crawl, walk, or run
  • Problems using their hands to pick up small things or write (for older children)
  • Clumsiness
  • Problems controlling arms, legs, or mouth muscles to do things they want to do (apraxia)


  • Not speaking or very limited speech
  • Loss of words the child was previously able to say
  • Difficulty expressing basic wants and needs
  • Poor vocabulary development
  • Problems following directions or finding objects that are named
  • Repeating what is said (echolalia)
  • Problems answering questions
  • Speech that sounds different (e.g., "robotic" speech or speech that is high-pitched)
Social skills:

  • Poor eye contact with people or objects
  • Poor play skills
  • Being overly focused on a topic or objects that interest them
  • Problems making friends
  • Crying, becoming angry, giggling, or laughing for no known reason or at the wrong time
  • Disliking being touched or held
Reacting to the world around them:

  • Rocking, hand flapping or other movements (self-stimulating movements)
  • Not paying attention to things the child sees or hears
  • Problems dealing with changes in routine
  • Using objects in unusual ways
  • Unusual attachments to objects
  • No fear of real dangers
  • Being either very sensitive or not sensitive enough to touch, light, or sounds (e.g., disliking loud sounds or only responding when sounds are very loud; also called a sensory integration disorder)
  • Feeding difficulties (accepting only select foods, refusing certain food textures)
You should keep in mind that this list is meant as a reference only. If you child has only a couple of the items on the list, it is unlikely that your child has autism. A pediatrician, neurologist, or other appropriate professional should be consulted for an accurate diagnosis.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

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