Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life. It is a brain disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate, form relationships with others, and respond appropriately to the environment. People with autism are not physically disabled and 'look' just like anybody without the disability. Those with high-functioning autism may have speech and intelligence intact. Others may be mentally disabled, mute, or have serious language delays. Autism may make them seem closed off and shut down. Some seem locked into repetitive behaviors. People with autism tend to share certain social, communication, motor, and sensory problems that affect their behavior.
People with autism may have some of the following traits.
- Does not babble or coo by 12 months
- Does not gesture (point, wave, grasp) by 12 months
- Does not say single words by 16 months
Does not say two-word phrases on his or her own by 24 months
- Has any loss of any language or social skill at any age.
- Insistence on sameness; resistance to change
- Difficulty in expressing needs; uses gestures or pointing instead of words
- Repeating words or phrases in place of normal, responsive language
- Laughing, crying, showing distress for reasons not apparent to others
- Prefers to be alone; aloof manner
- Difficulty in mixing with others
- May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
- Little or no eye contact
- Unresponsive to normal teaching methods
- Sustained odd play
- Spins objects
- Inappropriate attachments to objects
- Apparent over-sensitivity or under-sensitivity to pain
- No real fears of danger
- Noticeable physical over-activity or extreme under-activity
- Uneven gross/fine motor skills
- Not responsive to verbal cues; acts as if deaf although hearing tests in normal range.