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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disorder that affects a person’s ability to socialize and communicate with others. ASD can also result in restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that people with ASD can have. Because these symptoms and behaviors lie on a spectrum, no two autistic people are the same. 

Signs and Symptoms

Social Communication and Interaction Skills

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact

  • May not respond to their name

  • May not show a range of emotional facial expressions

  • May not play simple interactive games 

  • May not point to show you something interesting 

  • May not notice when others are hurt or upset 

  • May not notice other children and join them in play 

  • May not use pretend play

Restricted or Repetitive Behaviors or Interests

  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed

  • Repeats words or phrases over and over 

  • Plays with toys the same way every time

  • Is focused on specific parts of objects 

  • Gets upset by minor changes

  • Has obsessive interests

  • Must follow certain routines

  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles

  • Has unusual reactions to the senses

Other Characteristics

  • Delayed language skills

  • Delayed movement skills

  • Delayed cognitive or learning skills

  • Hyperactive, impulsive, and/or inattentive behavior

  • Unusual eating and sleeping habits

  • Unusual mood or emotional reactions

  • Anxiety, stress, or excessive worry

  • Lack of fear or more fear than expected

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