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What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that typically appears within the first years of life.  It is the result of a neurological disorder that effects the functioning of the brain in the areas of reasoning, social interaction and communication skills.

What are the Effects of Autism?

Communication

bullet Language develops slowly or not at all.
bullet Use of words without attaching meaning.
bullet Gestures used instead of words.
bullet Short attention spans.

Social Interaction

bullet May spend time alone rather than with others.
bullet Show little interest in making friends.
bullet Less responsive to social cues, such as eye contact or smiles.

Sensory Impairment

bullet Unusual reaction to physical sensations, such as being overly sensitive to touch or under responsive to pain.
bullet Sight, hearing, smell, and taste may be affected to a lesser or greater degree.

Play

bullet Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play.
bullet Does not imitate action of others.
bullet Does not initiate pretend games.

Behaviors

bullet May be overactive or very passive.
bullet Frequent tantrums for no apparent reason.
bullet May repetitively play with single item, idea or person.
bullet Apparent lack of safety awareness.
bullet May show aggressive or violent behavior or injure self.

Who Does Autism Affect?

According to the Autism Society of America, and confirmed by Dr. Bernard Rimland of the Autism Research Institute, it is conservatively estimated that nearly 400,000 people in the United States today have some form of Autism.  Its prevalence rate now places it as the 3rd most common developmental disability, more common than Down Syndrome (Autism Society of America).  According to Damien Porcari, Moderator for the Autism Research Guide, Autism and its associated disorders occur in approximately 60 of every 10,000 births.