What is Autism?
How does one begin to answer this question? The more I learn about Autism, the more questions I generate. Below are some good general definitions.
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From the Autism Society website:
“Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. There is no known single cause for autism, but increased awareness and funding can help families today.”
From the Princeton Child Development Institute website:
“Autism is a severe developmental disability that is usually noted within the first three years of life. It occurs in 1 of 110 births, exists in every ethnic group and every part of the world, and is much more common in boys than girls. Before treatment, youngsters with autism exhibit very uneven patterns of development. Often, speech is absent or very delayed and children do not relate to objects, events, or other people in expected ways, nor do they respond to touch, taste, sight, or sound in the same manner as their typical peers. Many children exhibit extremely dysfunctional responses, including stereotypic movements, tantrums, and self-injury.
Although the causes of autism are not yet known, there is some evidence that there may be multiple causes, such as genetic factors; insults to brain development (e.g., maternal health problems during pregnancy or problems during delivery); or parents or children’s exposure to toxic chemicals.
Because the etiology of autism is not clearly understood, prevention is not possible. But a significant body of evidence shows that applied behavior analysis technology can make a world of difference for people with autism, especially when treatment begins early.”
Everyone’s Autism story is different, and the joys and challenges of families on the spectrum are complex. I welcome dialogue with persons with autism, parents, family members, professionals & caregivers alike.
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