Autism, as defined by The World Health Organization, is "a range of conditions characterized by difficulties in communication and social interaction, as well as by restricted and repetitive behavior.”

People with autism have trouble communicating and interacting with others, can display repetitive behavior such as rocking or hand flapping, and have trouble functioning at school or work. They may also struggle to understand and perceive nonverbal communication such as facial expressions, gestures, and tone of voice. Intense feelings often become overwhelming and emotional outbursts are normal.

Autism is also referred to by the following terms:

  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • ASD

Key Things to Know About Autism

  • Research is clear that high quality early intervention can improve learning, communication, social skills, and underlying brain development.
  • Signs of autism usually appear by age 2 or 3.

Common Misconceptions about Autism

  • All people with autism are alike. Dr. Stephen Shore, Autism Speaks, says, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.”
  • Adults with autism cannot hold down a job or be successful. While finding a job can be challenging for adults on the autism spectrum, opportunities are increasing, and many go on to successful careers.

Treatments for Autism

Though there is no cure for autism, many treatment options are available for both children and adults. Treatments include:

  • Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA)
  • Speech and Language Therapy
  • Occupational Therapy
  • Sensory Integration Therapy
  • Social Skills Groups
  • Medication (there are no medications available to treat the core symptoms of autism, but some medications treat co-occurring symptoms like high energy levels, inability to focus, or self-harming behaviors).

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