"experts" don't know for certain what autism really is.
But they do document the symptoms and behaviors.
Each autistic child is different from other autistic children. They
each have their own sensory "combination" that keeps them
locked out of our world.
They don't develop as most persons. They may be "crippled"
in social skills, but brilliant in math. Some are "savants",
extremely gifted persons in one area of life, but non-functioning
in other areas. For instance, an autistic person might not be able
to read, write, or talk, but can play the piano at the concert level.
The incidence rate for autism is five to fifteen per ten thousand
Though there are many causes for autism, there are no known psychological
causes of autism. Or in other words, parents of autistic children
aren't bad parents. It was once believed that autism was the result
of "refrigerator moms". This was a cruel definition and
proved false. Causes include problems at birth, fragile X syndrome,
rubella during pregnancy, reaction to immunization, or a double regressive
differences include (To be classifed as autistic, a child would have
at least half of these symptoms):
Living in their own little world
Not able to socialize with other children
Fascination with spinning objects
Uses gestures instead of words
Hates changes in environment or routine
Resists snuggling, body contact
No fear in real dangers
Inappropriate or non-existent eye contact
Difficult to teach
Unnatural attachment to objects
(Facts provided by the Autism Society of America, 8601 Georgia Ave.,
Suite 503, Silver Springs, MD 20910 - used with permission)