“Autism” is one of the most dreaded diagnoses that a parent can hear. There are degrees of autism. Autistic children are classified as having low-, medium-, and high-functioning autism (LFA, MFA, and HFA). The severity is based on IQ scores. Autism is a brain developmental disorder.
Autism is characterized by a pattern of symptoms rather than by a single symptom. The autistic child has problems in social interaction, problems in communication, limited interests, and repetitive behavior.
Autism is not curable at this point, but there is a great deal of research being conducted and there has been progress made in helping those with autism to function at a higher level. Some of those who have autism can function almost normally in the world, while others who have more severe versions of autism may never be able to function without help.
It’s a common belief that autistic children prefer to be alone, but that belief isn’t substantiated by fact. Autistic children do not prefer to be alone, but they have a great deal of difficulty with interaction. Communication is a problem.
Repetitive behavior is one of the most noticeable symptoms of autism. Repetitive movements without purpose, like hand flapping, rocking, or head rolling, is almost always present. Compulsive behavior like insisting on objects being arranged in the same manner is also common.
Those who are autistic do not like change of any kind. They want to KNOW what is going to happen at a specific time and, as they get older, on a specific day. They do not menus to be varied. They do not want furniture to be rearranged.
About 30% of autistic children engage in self-injury behavior like biting themselves. A few of those with autism develop unusual levels of achievement in one particular area. They are called autistic savants.