What is Autism?

Autism is a complex neurobiological disorder (immunological, gastro-intestinal and neurological dysfunction), resulting in developmental disability. It typically appears in the first two to three years of life. Also known as a pervasive developmental or spectrum disorder, the symptoms and characteristics of autism can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe.

Autism affects 1 out of every 54 children in the United States and 1 out of 32 children in the state of New Jersey.

• People with autism process and respond to information in unique ways

• In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present

• Forty percent of individuals with autism do not have speech

• They may have difficulty expressing their needs, using gestures, or pointing instead of words

• They may laugh or cry, showing distress for no reason apparent to others

• Persons with autism may be resistant to change

• Persons with autism often prefer to be alone

• They may display tantrums/p>

• They often have difficulty interacting with others, especially their peers/p>

• Children with autism may not want to cuddle or be cuddled. Imagine having a child who does not want you to hug him. Imagine a child who cannot spontaneously tells you that he loves you/p>

• Persons with autism frequently make little or no eye contact/p>

• Persons with autism may not respond to normal teaching methods, they may have odd play habits, and frequently spin objects

• Many have sensory integration issues-over or under sensitivity to pain

• They may not understand the need to fear danger

• Children with autism may often first appear to be deaf because they do not respond to verbal cues

• In fact, the first diagnosis a child with autism receives is generally a speech or language delay


There are certainly children who have symptoms of autism early. They have what can be called “classical autism.” There are, however, a number of children who begin growing normally and then acquire autism. It is sometimes called “atypical autism” or “late-onset” autism.


Currently there is no consensus on the treatment or causes. However, there are a number of strategies that are employed to enhance the ability of the child to communicate with the world around them. The current strategies include behavioral intervention programs and biomedical strategies.


Families have to deal with the issue of a diagnosis of autism. They are often told by the diagnosing physician that their child will not be normal again. The child will not be able to communicate and interact normally. Services are often inadequate or unavailable for the child. Parents often have to struggle with school, insurance company, etc., to attain the necessary services.