Autism SpectrumDisorders (ASD) can be described by the federal definition in the United Stateslegal code, “Individuals With Disabilities Education Act” as follows: “A childis classified as having autism when the child has a developmental disabilitythat significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication and socialinteraction, that is generally evident before age three, and that adverselyaffects educational performance.” (Code of Federal Regulations 1308/1308, 15)This disease is a neurological condition that affects the physical brain andbrain chemistry, and can be a severely incapacitating life long developmentaldisability. It affects a variety of bodily functions and may be manifested byfew or many symptoms. Even though two children can be diagnosed with the sameform of autism, their physiological capabilities may be very different.
Manyliving with ASD will display characteristics that overlap with other disordersin the autism spectrum group. A person with ASD may appear as if they are intheir own world, having a unique set of sensory, physical, and mentalimpairments. In some cases, you have children that can or cannot speak. Socialsituations are difficult, with ASD, as one may present delayed speech with orwithout meaning, hyperactivity, and repetitive movements. 2 In the ASDpopulation, it is a common tendency to be sensitive or unusual in reacting tosensory stimulation through taste, touch, smell, hearing or site. A person withASD may have a time delayed response to learning, or may be incredibly good atother skills. One child with the disorder could show severe physical andcognitive impairments, the other child could have incredible skills in science,art, math, and memory, but may be deficient in their social skills.
Othertraits include having the inability to control emotions, reactions, andbehaviors. They may be more sensitive, or they could display a flat facialexpression, appearing to be emotionless.