Introduction to Autism

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Understanding a little about autism is the Groundwork for setting up a classroom for students with autism spectrum disorder. This brief Introduction to Autism video will provide a look into some of the characteristics that you might see in some of your students. Autism is complex and requires time to get to know an individual to understand their likes, dislikes, strengths and needs. Some of the things we know about autism are that autism:

  • typically appears during the first three years of life
  • is the result of a neurological disorder that affects functioning of the brain
  • occurs in approximately 1 out of 54 children (CDC.gov 2021)
  • more prevalent in boys
  • occurs in all racial, ethnic and social groups
  • affects in the areas of reasoning, social interaction and communication skills

The Autism Society of America defines autism as a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and affects a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum disorder” that affects individuals differently and to varying degrees. In the past, the diagnostic criteria from Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-IV listed the following as characteristics of autism:

1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction.

2. Qualitative impairments in communication.

3. Restricted repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior.

However, it did not discuss the severity or any accompanying conditions or factors. Fast forward to now, the new diagnosis from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual-V (DSM-V) does get more specific when it comes to severity and accompanying factors for autism spectrum disorders.

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