What is Autism?

Autism, which affects thought, perception and attention, is a broad spectrum of disorders that ranges from mild to severe. If an infant does not cuddle, make eye contact or respond to affection  and touching, or have abnormal responses to a combination of senses; such as hearing, balance, smell, taste and reaction to pain, parents should be seriously concerned.

This lack of responsiveness may be accompanied by an inability to communicate appropriately, and by a persistent failure to develop two way social relationships. The language skills may be poor, even nonexistent, sometimes repeating words or phrases in place of normal language or using gestures and pointing instead of words. In addition, the child may show unusual or extreme responses to objects, either avoidance or preoccupation. Another feature of autism is a tendency toward repetitive activities of a restrictive range, like spinning and rhythmic body movements.


Baby’s Communication Milestones
Keep in mind that  this chart notes average progress.
The vast majority of children who do not meet these
milestones still end up with normal language skills.


Social smile 0-2 months
Cooing 0-3 months
Turns toward mother’s or father’s voice 4 months
Razzing sound 5 months
Recognizes mama and dada 6-9 months
Says first word 12 months
Has vocabulary of  8-10 words 15 months
Has vocabulary of 15-18 words 18 months
Speaks in two word phrases; Has vocabulary of 50 words. 20-24 months
Can answer “who”, “why”, and “where”, questions; 
Has vocabulary of 500 words.
3 years
Can tell a story 4 years


Autism and related disabilities, such as PDD-NOS (Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified), and Asperger’s Syndrome are difficult to diagnose, especially in young children where speech and reasoning skills are still developing. Parents who suspect autism in their child should ask their pediatrician to refer them to a child psychiatrist, who can accurately diagnose  the autism and the degree of severity, and determine the appropriate educational measures. Autism is a serious, lifelong disability. However, with appropriate intervention, many of the autism behaviors can be positively changed, even to the point that the child or adult may appear, to the untrained person, to no longer have autism, and have a full range of life experiences.

For more information go to Autism Checklist

H E L P F U L  B O O K S


Growing Up With Language: How Children Learn to Talk
The New Language of Toys : Teaching Communication Skills…
Targeting Autism : What We Know, Don’t Know and Can…
Play and Imagination in Children With Autism
Teaching Children With Autism :.
The World of the Autistic Child
Recognizing and Coping With Sensory Integration Dysfunction
Asperger’s Syndrome : A Guide for Parents and Professionals
Books about Autism Spectrum Disorders
Soon Will Come the Light : A View from Inside the Autism Puzzle

Autism-PDD Resources Network

Visit these sites for more information
Early Origins of AutismAsk an Expert on AutismHealth FinderTalk to Autism Expert

National Institutes of Mental Health

Combined Health Information Database

Abstracts on Autism

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