What is Autism?
Definitions Used by the Medical Establishment
"Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a group of complex neurodevelopment disorders characterized by repetitive and characteristic patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. The symptoms are present from early childhood and affect daily functioning."
There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people.
The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less. A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder. (CDC)"
Definitions Used by Parent & Societal Advocates
"Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD) refers to a broad range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech and nonverbal communication.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, autism affects an estimated 1 in 54 children in the United States today.
We know that there is not one autism but many subtypes, most influenced by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Because autism is a spectrum disorder, each person with autism has a distinct set of strengths and challenges. The ways in which people with autism learn, think and problem-solve can range from highly skilled to severely challenged. Some people with ASD may require significant support in their daily lives, while others may need less support and, in some cases, live entirely independently."
"(We know) Autism is:
A neurobiological condition
Almost certainly biogenetic in origin
A lifelong condition
Affects more people than was previously known
Is a spectrum condition
People with Autism are considered disabled but many choose to see themselves as different.
WE DON'T KNOW VERY MUCH ABOUT AUTISM AT ALL
Definitions Used by Autists
All autistic people experience the human social world significantly different from typical individuals. The difference in autistic social cognition is best described in terms of
A heightened level of conscious processing of raw information signals from the environment
An absence or a significantly reduced level of subconscious filtering of social information.
Autistic children: take longer to decode non-verbal signals.
Hyper- and/or hypo-sensitivity to certain sensory inputs from the physical environment.
With respect to autistic sensory sensitivity there are huge differences between autists.
Autistic inertia: difficulty starting things, and stopping things.
Autistic cognition shapes the human experience of the world across multiple social dimensions, including social motivations, social interactions, the way of developing trust, and the way of making friends."