encompasses a broad range of brain disorders that,
by conservative estimates, affects 1 in 500 children.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD's) include Asperger's
Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not
Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Rett Syndrome (which
affects only girls) and autism.
Autism Spectrum Disorcers impair three main areas
of human development: speech,
communication, and social
interaction. These impairments may range
from mild to severe.
Individuals on the autism spectrum may lack speech
altogether or may be delayed in their acquisition
and use of language. They may repeat words (echolalia)
in place of normal verbal communication and they
may recite entire lines of text from books, movies
or computer games out of context for no apparent
reason. Some individuals with autism never develop
gestures such as pointing to requested objects
or waving good-bye. Individuals with ASD's may
find it difficult or impossible to hold a conversation
or may compulsively steer the conversation to
In the area of social communication, there may
be a lack of response to verbal requests or no
response when the person's name is called. Similarly,
they often fail to connect to the names for other
people and they often confuse pronouns. Almost
universally, individuals on the autistic continuum
are unable to interpret facial expressions or
emotions. They may establish only fleeting eye
contact, if they any at all. They also often experience
difficulty transitioning from one activity to
Many individuals with autism lack interest in
socially interactions. For children, there can
be a lack of imaginative play and a preference
to engage in repetitive activities for extended
periods of time such as rewinding videos, stacking
blocks, or lining up toys. Many individuals on
the spectrum are perceived to be aloof or indifferent
to other people.
What causes autism?
No one is sure what causes autism but research
seems to suggest that it is caused by both genetic
and environmental factors such as vaccines or
Is there a cure?
At present, there is no known cure for autism.
Researchers from the USA, Canada, and the UK hope
to better understand the disorder's biochemical
origins and find a cure before 2010.
Many parents find that their children's symptoms
and behaviors improve with the elimination of
gluten and casein from diet and with the addition
of nutritional supplements.
Autism Today does not endorse any one method
of treatment, but we are dedicated to examining
the latest research and methods of treatments
that allow you to make an informed choice.
Where can I get more information?
Educating yourself and others about autism is
a critical way to enhance the wellbeing of individuals
with autism. We believe that grassroots advocacy
and one-on-one "consciousness raising"
helps society at large better understand the nature
of this common developmental disorder and opens
more doors of opportunity for people on the autism
To request additional information or to find answers
to other questions on autism, please click on
any of the links below. Be sure, too, to visit
We are here to help!
are people with autism like?
there more than one type of autism?
is Asperger's Syndrome
causes autism and how is autism diagnosed?
is the DSM IV and how is it used to determine
are the most effective approaches?
there a cure and what is the prognosis?
Are you wondering whether a child you know may
have autism or Asperger's Syndrome? Take
the "Mini Autism Quiz."