Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurological developmental disorder that impacts the way a person communicates and interacts with others, as well as how they perceive the world around them. Autism is a spectrum, meaning it affects individuals in various ways and to different degrees of severity. Some people may require significant support in their daily lives, while others can be highly functional and independent.
Autism is characterized by a range of symptoms and behaviors, which include:
- Communication difficulties: Individuals may struggle with expressing themselves verbally, understanding non-verbal language, or maintaining a conversation.
- Social interaction challenges: They may have difficulties forming and maintaining relationships, interpreting emotions and social behaviors, or sharing interests and emotions with others.
- Repetitive behaviors and routines: People with autism may engage in repetitive movements (such as rocking or hand-flapping), adhere to strict routines, and struggle with adapting to changes in their environment or schedule.
- Restricted interests: They may have intense, highly focused interests in specific areas or activities, often at the expense of other interests or activities.
- Sensory sensitivities: Autistic individuals may experience hyper- or hypo-sensitivity to sensory stimuli, such as sounds, lights, smells, tastes, and textures.
Autism is a complex disorder, and its exact cause is not yet fully understood. It is believed that a combination of genetic and environmental factors may contribute to the development of the condition. There is no cure for autism, but early interventions and ongoing support can significantly help improve communication, social, and adaptive skills for those with autism.