What is Autism?


Have you ever heard the phrase “on the spectrum” and wondered what that meant? When I was growing up, I was aware of the light spectrum and the political spectrum. Now, there is a growing awareness about the autism spectrum. A person on the spectrum is one who is diagnosed with or who has the characteristics of an autistic spectrum disorder. 


According to Autism Speaks:


What is autism?

Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication. 


What are the signs of autism?

The core symptoms of autism are social communication challenges and restricted, repetitive behaviors. Symptoms of autism may:

begin in early childhood (though they may go unrecognized), persist and interfere with daily living.


How can I screen for autism?

The Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers, Revised (M-CHAT-R) is a screener that will ask a series of 20 questions about your child’s behavior. It’s intended for toddlers between 16 and 30 months of age. The results will let you know if a further evaluation may be needed. You can use the results of the screener to discuss any concerns that you may have with your child’s healthcare provider. You can access it here.


What are some interventions for autism?

Every child or adult with autism has unique strengths and challenges, so there is no one size fits all approach to autism treatment and intervention. 

Each autism intervention or treatment plan should be tailored to address the person’s specific needs. A person’s treatment plan can include behavioral interventions, other therapies, medicines or a combination of these.


Interventions and Therapies:

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)

Early Start Denver Model (ESDM)


Occupational Therapy (OT)

Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT)

Relationship Development Intervention (RDI)

Speech Therapy


Verbal Behavior


How can I give to the cause? 

Every April Autism Speaks celebrates World Autism Month, beginning with United Nations-sanctioned World Autism Awareness Day on April 2. Throughout the month, we focus on sharing stories and providing opportunities to increase understanding and acceptance of people with autism, fostering worldwide support. You can donate here


Stay tuned this month for more about autism, including content from Thinking in Pictures: My Life with Autism by Temple Grandin.


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