What is autism? Types and Symptoms

What is autism?
What is autism?

What is autism? Types and Symptoms Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects how people communicate and interact with others and the world around them. It’s for life – don’t get out of it.

Autism is often associated with other conditions, such as ADHD and learning disabilities. They share common challenges with social and communication skills, including:

Difficulty reading nonverbal cues or understanding ‘unwritten’ social rules
Difficulty participating in a conversation
Not always being able to adjust (controlling how much or in what tone you speak)
Taking language at face value and not always understanding puns, riddles, or forms of speech

What is autism? Types and Symptoms
What is autism? Types and Symptoms

Another common sign is the so-called stereotypical behavior. It can give the impression of “special interest” about a particular topic or object. Or it can refer to repetitive behaviors and movements such as:

flapping or swinging the arms (sometimes called stimming)
Repetition of certain sounds or phrases (sometimes called echoes)

There are many differences in how autism manifests from person to person. Some people communicate by speaking. Others use nonverbal communication. There is also a wide range of intellectual abilities and self-care. This autism diagnosis reflects using support levels of 1, 2 or 3. These levels indicate the level of support a person needs, with 3 being the highest.

People talk about autism in different ways. Doctors and schools often use the term autism spectrum disorder (or ASD) and the person’s language (“person with autism”). Some diagnosed people prefer identity language and may call themselves autistic.

Instead of describing autism as a disorder, some in the autism community embrace neurodiversity. This concept says that conditions like autism are neurological differences that are simply part of human difference.

3 myths about autism

Myth #1: People with autism don’t experience empathy or feelings. In fact, they feel deep empathy and have strong emotions, but they may struggle to show it.

Myth 2: People with autism can’t stand change. Predictable actions and structures help everyone feel safe and comfortable. Change can cause anxiety. You may see persistence (or “stumble”) when something unexpected happens.

Myth 3: People with autism don’t like to be touched. Autism and sensory processing problems are common. Some avoid certain sensations and are very sensitive to touch and other senses. But others may be looking for those sensations.

How does the diagnosis progress?

For many years autism was a comprehensive diagnosis that covered:

Asperger Syndrome

Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Elsewhere Specified (PDD-NOS) Rett syndrome

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD or Heller Syndrome) autism disorder

This changed in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). In the DSM-5, Asperger’s Syndrome, PDD-NOS and CDD are no longer listed as diagnoses. There is only one diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Rett syndrome is now listed as a separate genetic condition.)

Autism is not a learning disability, but it can affect learning.

Since children with autism have access to special education services, does that mean autism is a learning disability?

No, ASD is not a learning disability. But it affects learning – sometimes in the same way as learning disabilities. Children with autism often qualify services.

The Special Education Act covers 13 types of disabilities, including a class known as

(SLD). Autism is another category.

Children with LTC have difficulty with certain academic skills. Reading, writing and math are the most important. Autism can also cause problems in these areas. However, it also has a wider impact on how children develop.

It affects communication and can cause problems with social skills. It also tends to include sensory processing issues, repetitive movements, and limited interests.

Educators and doctors know a lot about how to help autism and learning disabilities. But the strategies can be very different. Some great supports for children with learning disabilities may not work for children with autism – and vice versa. Autism and learning difficulties can also occur.
For caregivers: what to do next

For many children, a problem with language development is the first sign of autism. Other common signs include:

Flexible thinking disorder or the ability to think differently about a problem

Motor planning challenges, like riding a bike, catching a ball, or running


If you are concerned, talk to a health care provider. Share your concerns and what you see. There are many ways to support children with autism. You can also find out more by reading about the experience of raising children with autism.

Important New Guidance on the Rights of Students with Disabilities

The Autism Self-Defense Network applauds the Department of Education’s release of vital new guidance to help ensure students with disabilities are not discriminated against when disciplined in schools. Advice comes from two Department of Education agencies: the Office of Civil Rights and the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. There are three documents, a letter and an information sheet that help explain one of the documents.

Many students with disabilities require services to support their behavior as well as their social, emotional, and mental health. Students with these support needs (including students with autism) are disproportionately segregated, expelled, restrained, and segregated, and transferred to more restricted schools and settings. They are often the target of discriminatory assessments of threats and police attention in schools.

The guidelines provide much-needed clarity about when and how disability rights laws protect students with disabilities who face disciplinary action at school. The manual explains the rights of students in the following areas: suspension and expulsion, restraint and isolation, corporal punishment, transfer to more segregated schools and places, police actions in schools, etc. The advice explains how each of these can constitute discrimination and outlines the legal procedures available to families.

These much-needed clarifications are necessary for students who may face discrimination or otherwise be excluded from schools for behaviors related to their disability. The guidelines state that schools must provide these students with reasonable behavioral conditions and change their disciplinary policies when changes are needed. The guidelines are also clear about schools’ obligation to provide supports and services to students with disabilities that affect their behaviour, social and emotional skills or mental health, and their obligation to educate all children as possible. Students in regular classes.


What is autism? Types and Symptoms

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