(Also Known As: Atism, Autistic, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Autistic Spectrum Disorder)

(Reviewed by: Paul Peterson, Licensed Therapist)

What is Autism?

Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. It is a severe life-long condition recognized mainly by deficits in social functioning, communication, and activities and interests. It is characterized by a difficulty in learning proper social interactions and conventions, delays in language acquisition, and certain repetitive and stereotyped bodily movements and/or intense preoccupation with objects or parts of objects. Many people who have autism have difficulties with reciprocal conversations and maintaining proper eye contact. 1

Autism can be diagnosed during childhood, usually in children as young as three (3) years old. However before that, several signs may indicate the presence of the disorder—such as lack of fascination with the caregiver’s attention or facial expressions, being interested more in objects and very much less with people, not showing any interest in interactions or not playing with peers, etc. 2

Although it is not a necessary part of the diagnostic factors for autism, some people with autism have reported hypersensitivity to various sensory input, like certain sounds, lights, textures, etc. What may seem as normal or tolerable sensory stimuli to normal or neurotypical people, can be overwhelming sensory overload to people with autism.

Could You Have Autism?

Autism Topics

Related Conditions

Asperger's Syndrome – autism, deficient interaction and social skills, lacking of empathy, autistic, restricted pattern of behaviors
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder – delay in language and motor skills, autism, lack of social functions
Rett's Disorder – repetitive movements, cognitive impairment, autism, problem with social skills