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The Autism Website

Autism Facts and FAQs

Autism Facts and Frequently Asked Questions

What is Autism?

The NIH defines Autism as, "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."  Autism is generally considered to be a lifelong condition.

What causes it?

Currently, autism is believed to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors, leading to genetic mutations.  Scientists are still exploring the many possible causes of these mutations.

Did I cause this?

No.  You did not cause your loved one's autism.  The theory that bad parenting causes autism has long since been disproved.  Autism families have enough to deal with.  Don't add unnecessary blame and guilt.

What are the autism warning signs?

Some common autism signs to watch for are:  regressions, obsessive stimming behaviors (flapping, rocking, spinning, etc.), failure to meet common milestones, absence of (or delayed) speech, lack of eye contact, social or behavioral delays, and self injurious behavior.  This is not a complete list.

How is it diagnosed?

In most cases, the patient is referred by a primary care physician to any of various specialists for evaluation and screening.  These specialists can be psychologists, neurologists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, etc.  They will use questionnaires and other screening tools to make their assessment.  If they suspect Autism Spectrum Disorder, the specialist will usually recommend a more comprehensive evaluation.

How can I support my friend/ family member whose child was just diagnosed with autism?

Whether you're a family member of someone with autism or a friend who cares about someone affected by autism, it's important that they know how much you love and support them.  Most people affected by autism (the person with autism and the family) experience judgement, rejection, and censure daily.  Knowing they have your support and understanding is a vital factor in their quality of life.

What kinds of therapies can I find for my loved one?

There are many therapies offered for people on the autism spectrum.  Some popular ones are Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Floortime (created by Dr. Stanley Greenspan), TEACCH, the Son-Rise program, and Speech and Occupational therapy.

There are many complementary therapies as well.  These include, but are not limited to, nutritional therapy, chiropractic, massage, and aromatherapy.

Are there any organizations, books, or other resources that can help?

Yes!  Take a look at ourresourcespage.

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