What is Autism?

Our definition:

Autism is a deviation in development, which is typically apparent before a child is 3 years of age and occurs in approximately 1 in 110 children being more common among males than females (4:1). It is a diverse disorder consisting of challenges in three main areas: sensation, social interaction, and communication, however, these characteristics are neither exclusive nor mandatory for a diagnosis. Autism is not a single, definable collection of traits or characteristics, but a combination of behaviors from a wide spectrum, which manifest differently in each individual.  Autistic individuals process information differently than neurotypicals (NT’s), which can lead to heightened or repressed sensory experiences of any or all senses including light, touch, pain, and sound sensitivities.  Autism presents a potential differences in initiating and understanding verbal and non-verbal communication. An inability to take other’s perspectives and difficulties understanding social cues and body language are commonly observed in Autism. Due to these traits, autistic individuals may seem antisocial; however, some do enjoy social interaction. Autistic individuals are not mentally retarded and often display high and low IQ’s in opposite subject areas. Autism is commonly mistaken for a learning disorder because children do not always learn well in a traditional classroom; all autistics are able to learn when provided with the appropriate tools.  There is currently no proven cause for Autism, but is believed to be biologically based.  There is also no cure for Autism. Because autism may be accompanied by repetitive, controlled, or self-stimulatory behavior, behavior modification therapy may be used in cases where behavior is self-abusive.  Educational assistance may also be given to help overcome learning difficulties. Because autism may affect many areas of a person’s life, it is important that one considers it with understanding, caring, and acceptance for the individual.

A few other definitions

“You have water in a large, spoutless bucket which you wish to transfer to many expresso cups, with as little spillage as possible, and the only tool you have been provided with is a sieve. The water is sensory information: what you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and feel from your surroundings. The expresso cups are organized, discrete parts of that sensory information which have relevance to you”.-Ruth Landsdowne, To Those Concerned by Autism


“Autism is not a two dimensional thing with a high and a low functioning end it is like the palette of colours that can be assembled from the primaries. To me it is like a landscape where one can move within a specific territory. It has mountain tops and deep valleys and if one were to set ones altimeter at average elevation to fly across it one could not do so without crashing into a mountain or missing out the valleys.”-Larry Arnold, Its Relationship to Science and to People with the Condition


“So therefore, to me, autism, although an unnamed and unnamable thing at the time was always, and has always been a living thing in me, and always felt as if it were the “real me”and the only thing live in me; the only thing that was ‘right’. If it hadn’t been for that, I would’ve turned out a very mangled (seemingly human) being for sure.”Kim, What is Autism”



Instead of viewing Autism in the light of deficiency, try looking at it from the perspective of possibility, with negative expectations to be shattered.


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