What are People with Autism Like? Children with
autism often appear relatively normal
in their development until the age of 24-30 months, when parents may notice delays in
language, play or social interaction.
The following areas are among those that
may be affected by autism:
Communication: language develops slowly or not at all; use of words without
attaching the usual meaning to them; communicates with gestures instead of words;
short attention spans.
Social Interaction: spends time alone rather than with others; shows little interest
in making friends; less responsible to social cues such as eye contact or smiles.
Sensory Impairment: unusual reactions to physical sensations such as being overly
sensitive to touch or under-responsive to pain- sight, hearing, touch, pain, smell, taste
may be affected to a lesser or greater degree.
Play: lack of spontaneous or imaginative play; does not initiate others actions;
doesn't initiate pretend games.
Behaviors: may be overactive or very passive, throw frequent tantrums for no apparent
reason; may perseverate on a single item, idea or person; apparent lack of common sense;
may show aggressive or violent behavior or injure self
There are great differences among people with autism. Some individuals mildly affected
may exhibit only slight delays in language and greater challenges with social interactions.
They may have average or above average verbal, memory or spatial skills but find it difficult
to be imaginative or join in a game of softball with their fiends. Others more severely
affected may need greater assistance in handling day to day activities like crossing the
street or making a purchase.
Contrary to popular understanding, many children
and adults with autism make eye contact,
show affection, smile and laughs and show a variety of other emotions, but in varying
degrees. Like other children, they respond to their environment in positive and
negative ways. The autism may affect their range of responses and make it more difficult
to control how their body and mind react. They live normal life spans and the behaviors
associated with autism may change or disappear over time.
While no one can predict the future, we do know
that some adults with autism live and
work independently in the community, while others depend on the support of family and
professionals. Adults ,with autism can benefit from vocational training to provide them
with the skills needed for obtaining jobs, in addition to social and recreational programs.
Adults with autism may live in a variety of residential settings, ranging from independent
home or apartments to group homes, supervised apartment settings, living with other
family members to more structured residential care.
Individuals with autism may have other disorders
which affect the functioning of the brain,
such as epilepsy, mental retardation, or genetic disorders, such as Fragile X Syndrome.
About two-thirds of those diagnosed with autism will test in the range of mental retardation.
Approximately 25-30% may develop a seizure pattern at some period during life.
From the Autism Society of America's web page
'What is Autism?" developed and maintained on behalf of the ASA by Catriona Johnson & Ben Dorman.
Autism Society of America, 7910 Woodmont Ave, Suite 650, Bethesda, MD 20814-3015
tel: 1-800-3AUTISM (301) 657-0881; fax: (301) 657-0869.
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