What is Autism?
Derived from the Greek word "autos" (meaning
"self"), autism is defined as a biological brain disorder.
It describes children with impaired communication skills, children who seem
to have no interest in other people, who seem lost and isolated within a disconcerting
collection of interests and behaviors. Although some children with autism are
affected early on, others who developed normally at first can regress later
on. Children who at one time were babbling, walking, and talking mysteriously
lose skills and language that they had previously gained. Some become silent
and withdrawn; some become loud, angry, and inconsolable. It is a devastating
disorder that can tear families apart and leave the lives of many children unfulfilled.
Autism is diagnosed across a broad range of symptoms, from mild to severe, known
as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Resulting behaviors that may occur within
the spectrum include sensory issues, repetitive and obsessive behaviors, aggression,
self-injury, and language impairments.
Up until the early 1990's, it was estimated that 5 out of 10,000
children would be diagnosed with autism. These figures have since increased
to an alarming 60 out of 10,000. Symptoms usually surface shortly after birth
or within 2 1/2 years of age.