Are you wondering, “What is autism?”. There are many myths and misconceptions when it comes to a spectrum disorder. Yet, there are some key basics that everyone should know.

To learn more about autism spectrum disorder, keep reading. This brief guide will help you become more aware of autism spectrum disorder and what challenges those living with it face.

What Is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism Spectrum Disorder, or ASD, is a term for a wide range of conditions. Challenges with verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors are seen across the spectrum.

There is no one cause of autism. Genetics is one of the most well-known factors. Research continues as to how genetics, environment, infection, and other factors play into a spectrum diagnosis.

Being a spectrum, the severity of how autism affects each individual varies.  There are three different levels of autism, and one individual can receive a diagnosis of two separate levels

Autism is a lifelong diagnosis that is most commonly diagnosed during early childhood. However, a later diagnosis can occur at any age or stage of life. 

Early intervention helps autistic children work through development delays, social skills, and other impairments.

While early intervention is essential, it is not the only time support and intervention can occur. There are also resources for adults with autism, such as JoyDew.

Difficulty with Communication

One of the key signs of autism spectrum disorder is difficulty with social interaction from a young age. Autistic individuals may have a difficult time connecting with their peers. This difficulty could be caused by a difficulty relating to others or understanding them.

In some cases, the individual may have a hard time expressing emotions. This issue can lead to struggles in predicting or understanding the actions of others. The individual may have difficulty beginning or keeping engaged in conversation.  Communication issues are a common struggle for autistic children and adults.

An autistic individual may have a difficult time keeping eye contact, but this is not always the case.  Having the ability to gain and maintain eye contact does not negate a person’s autism.  This misconception is one of those autism myths we are working hard to get rid of permanently.

Noticeable delays in speech and language development at an early age are common on the spectrum. Children may be unresponsive to their names and verbal prompts or could speak in a flat (monotone) voice. These issues can cause disruptions in verbal communication, such as body language, facial expressions, and gestures.

As a child, the individual may struggle with imaginative play. They may tend to take things literally, which could cause them to become confused when others make jokes or use idioms and expressions.

Repetitive Behavior

Repetitive behavior is a term for reoccurring behaviors that someone with autism may display. They may often become hyper-focused on a task, object, or subject. For example, this could be that they talk or focus excessively on this particular interest.

Structure and routine are both equally essential and limiting when it comes to autism.  An individual can react strongly or become upset when this routine or schedule is interrupted. However, having set routines helps with transitions and helps autistic individuals thrive.

Some individuals on the spectrum may also repeat an action or behavior over and over. For example, this could be shutting a drawer or saying a particular word or phrase repeatedly (echolalia).

Understanding Autism Spectrum Disorder

Now that you have a basic understanding of the question “What is autism?” it’s time to learn even more!  Browse our website for a ton of great information on autism parenting and as well as other special needs.  

Do you have or know a child with autism? Listen to our Autism Parenting Podcast to learn more about how to assist a child living with autism.

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