Autism is a spectrum of disorders caused by abnormal brain development that can lead to diminished social skills, as well as
unusual ways of learning and reactions to sensations. Autism spectrum disorder, meaning people with autism can have a range
of symptoms. Mildly affected, children develop life skills at an early age. Severely afflicted, children may be unable to function
in almost any setting.

Autism symptoms can present themselves in a variety of combinations from mild to severe. Autism is defined by a certain set
of behaviors. Children with autism can exhibit any combination of the behaviors in any degree of severity. Two children both
diagnosed with the same disorder may act differently from one another and have varying skills.

Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the functioning of the brain. It impacts the normal development of the brain in
the areas of social interaction and language.

Autism is one of the five (5) disorders under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), characterized by
severe and pervasive impairments in several areas of development.

Autism and PDD occur in approximately 1 in 68 births. It is the fastest growing developmental disability. These disorders are
four times more common in boys than girls.

Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three(3) years of life.

Autism spectrum disorders are PDD, Asperger’s syndrome, Childhood Disintegrating disorder, Rett’s syndrome and PDD-
NOS (not otherwise specified). Parents hear different terms used to describe children within the spectrum, such as autistic
tendencies, autism spectrum, high functioning or low functioning. More important than the terms is to understand that
children with autism can learn and function productively and show gains with appropriate education and treatment. Early
intervention is key in proper development.

A diagnosis of autism and appropriate educational programs are very important to children with an autism spectrum disorder.
From the age of three, children with autism and PDD are eligible for an educational program appropriate to their individual
needs. Educational programs for children with autism or PDD focus on improving communication, social, academic,
behavioral, and daily living skills. Behavior and communication problems that interfere with learning sometimes require the
assistance of a knowledgeable professional in the autism field who develops and helps to implement a plan which can be
carried out at home and school.

Symptoms of autism are seen within the first 3 - 6 months of the child's life, parents may note the child does not develop a
normal pattern of smiling or cuddling response. As children with autism grow older, they do not progress through
developmental milestones such as learning to say words or speak sentences Instead, they seem aloof, detached, and
withdrawn. Instead of developing a pattern of relating warmly to their parents, children with autism may instead engage in self-
stimulating behavior such as rocking or head banging. By age 2 or 3 years for a child with autism, it is usually clear that there
is something wrong, and the symptoms of autism continue to become more obvious over time as the child fails to develop
normal verbal or interpersonal communication skills.

Children within the autism spectrum disorders may yearn for interaction with others the same age, but this requires the social
skills they lack. Autistic children also have no creativity or flexibility in their play. They tend to be repetitive and stick to
routine. Example of play: lines up toys, plays with toys inappropriately, and uses objects as toys.

For a child with autism the classroom environment should be structured so that the program is consistent and predictable.
Students with autism or PDD learn better and are less confused when information is presented visually as well as verbally.
Interaction with non-disabled peers is also important, for these students provide models of appropriate language, social, and
behavior skills. To overcome frequent problems in generalizing skills learned at school, it is very important to develop
programs with parents, so that learning activities, experiences, and approaches can be carried over into the home and

Autistic children process and respond to information in unique ways. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior
may be present.

Autism Symptom:

• Routine/resistance to change
• Difficulty in expressing needs / lack of speech
• Repeating word and / or phrases
• Distress for reasons not appropriate to others
• Anti-social tendencies / preferring to recluse themselves
• Tantrums
• Lack of affections
• No perception of danger
• Poor eye contact
• Inappropriate attachment to objects
• Unresponsive / ignores when spoken to
• Over / under sensitivity to pain
• Annoyed by / frightened by loud noises
• Sustained odd play
• Low tolerance to certain textured food

When children display similar behaviors but do not meet the criteria for autism, they may receive a diagnosis of Pervasive
Developmental Disorder-NOS (PDD not otherwise specified).

With educational programs designed to meet the needs of an individual with autism and specialized support services in
employment and living arrangements, children and adults with autism or PDD can live and work in the community.

High Functioning Autism

About 20% of the autism population are described as high functioning. There are many terms used in reference to this group.
Examples are Mildly Autistic, Autistic Tendencies, Pervasive Developmental Disorder (pdd), and Pdd nos(not otherwise
Autism Awareness
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•        Autism seems to have two(2) tracts
- Congenital Autism (from the beginning)
- Regressive Autism (around 15 - 18 months,
regression noticeable)

•        All forms of Autism include
- Communication / language difficulties
- Sensory issues
- Social deficits

•        Some autistic children also have
physical issues
- Bowel problems
-Sometimes rectified by gluten free, casein
free diet

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