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What is Autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects approximately 1 in 36 children, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The signs and symptoms of ASD may be obvious or subtle and vary widely from one individual to another. Diagnostic criteria for ASD includes difficulties with social communication, decreased nonverbal communication (e.g., eye contact, gestures), and restricted/repetitive behaviors (including sensory concerns).

Young Children

Symptoms or signs of ASD in younger children may include:

  • Difficulty making eye contact
  • Lack of response to his/her name
  • Lack of showing or sharing experiences/enjoyment with others
  • Preference to play alone rather than with others
  • Repetitive behaviors or restricted interest
  • Difficulty with changes in routines

Older Children and Adolescents

Symptoms or signs of ASD in older children/adolescents may include all of the symptoms listed above as well as:

  • Difficulty with understanding the emotions of others
  • Difficulty with understanding social nuances or reading social cues
  • An interest in playing/interacting with others but unusual or awkward social initiations
  • Difficulty with maintaining social interactions (e.g., maintaining a conversation, knowing how to end a conversation)
  • An interest in only talking about their experiences or interests with little interest in learning about others.