Posted by: Patricia Hysong | April 27, 2015

Autism Spectrum Disorders

April 2015 is the 45th anniversary of the first Autism Awareness Month. The goal is to raise awareness, acceptance and tolerance about Autism and those who are affected by the disorder.



Autism is a neurodevelopmental syndrome that is defined by deficits in social reciprocity and communication, and by unusual restricted, repetitive behaviors according to the American Psychiatric Association. It is a heterogeneous condition in that no two children or adults with autism have exactly the same set of symptoms. While no two people with autism will have the same accumulation of symptoms, there are common characteristics found in the disorder that present with varying degrees and disabilities at the core of the disorder.

Autism Spectrum Disorder, “What is that?”

Use of the term “spectrum” in reference to Autism refers to the varying range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment that children with the disorder can have. Each individual with Autism is unique. Some are mildly impaired by their symptoms and others are more severely affected. Some have exceptional abilities visually, musically, and academically. Nearly 40 percent of those affected have above average intellectual abilities. Others have more significant disabilities that could make them unable to live independently as adults. Close to 25 percent of those with ASD are non-verbal but may adapt other forms of communication to allow them to express themselves and as a result function at a higher level than others.

ASD has common characteristics found within the complexity of its varying degrees of abilities and disabilities that include:

  • Deficiencies in social skills-communications and/or interactions with others
  • Empathy-recognition, understanding of the feelings of others
  • Physical contact-some may not like physical contact like hugs, tickling or physical play
  • Sudden environmental changes-surroundings, loud noises, lighting changes, textures or even smells
  • Speech-repetitive use of words or phrases, speaking in a monotone, not speaking at all
  • Changes in Behavior and Routine-often show repetitive behaviors in which changes in this behavior cause distress to them
  • Unpredictable learning rates
  • Obsessive behaviors
  • Physical tics

In the United States it is estimated that 1 in 110 children have Autism and 1 in 150 people in America are affected. As such, you probably know someone with the disability. I do. Several, including my grandson. Nearly a year ago he was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder One which is a very mild form and just a few years ago, would have been referred to as Asperger Syndrome. That term, as well as many others that had previously been used, now are all included within the broader category of ASD.

Scientist don’t have a definitive cause of ASD, but research suggests that both genes and environment play roles.

Please visit, The National Institute of Mental or for more information and increase your awareness of Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Information adapted from the sites listed above.

This information is provided courtesy of the Wyoming AgrAbility Project. For more information, visit our website or call toll-free at 866-395-4986.

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