Autism, or autism spectrum disorder, is a developmental disorder that is characterized by significant challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. People with autism often have difficulties understanding what other people think and feel. Because of that, it can behard for them to express themselves with words, through gestures, facial expressions, and touch. There is not only one form of autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with this disorder has their own distinct set of strengths and challenges. That being said, autism can be a minor problemfor some or a disability that needs full-time care in a special facility for others.
The cause of autism is not known and there is no known cure for it. It continues throughout an individual’s life. Autism occurs all over the world in any socioeconomic background, race, or ethnicity. Boys are affected more than girls. Additionally, it seems to run in families, which indicates a possible genetic link to the disorder.
Symptoms of autism are usually noticeable by age two or three. Numerous research have shown that an early intervention for people with autism leads to positive outcomes later in their life. Different specialists, such as physicians, psychologists, speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, or physical therapists, can play a role in the evaluation process for a diagnosis of autism. These specialists can work together in order to help develop and implement intervention plans along with parents or caregivers. The goals of the interventions are to improve social interaction, communication, and/or behavior to enable better functioning in daily activities for the person with autism at home, school, and in their community.