Autism is a spectrum disorder
- Not all children with autism behave in the same way
- Symptoms range from mild to severe
- Variation in scattering of skills within each individual
- Wide range of IQ's
- Each child might display a different combination of behaviors, ranging from mild to severe.
- Most show a pattern of relative strength, usually in certain aspects of memory, visual perception or talents
Autism is a lifelong developmental disability that begins sometime during the first three years of a child's life. It is a neurologically-based disorder that affects the way a child communicates, interact with other people and perceives and reacts to the world.
Autism and related conditions have been estimated to occur in as many as 1 in 500 individuals (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 1997). Autism is four times more likely to affect boys than girls and knows no racial, ethnic, or social boundaries. Family income, lifestyle, and educational levels do not affect the chance of autism's occurrence.
Other disorders related to autism are Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger's Disorder. The term autism is generally used to describe the spectrum of these related disorders.