What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

From writing about what to and what not to say to an Autism Mom and sending encouragement past a physician’s evaluation on our children, I’m thinking we should take a step back and discuss what the Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) actually is. ASD is a wide range of a term where children, youth and young adults can fall anywhere from the severe end of the spectrum to the mild end of the spectrum.


As cataloged by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), ASD is a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by impairments in social communication and restricted,  repetitive patterns of behavior, interests or activities.

These kids flow in a world that has no limits or linear concepts of our “protocols” for communication yet are expected to conform to the typical way of doing things. How backwards is that?

Let’s unpack the word, neurodevelopmental. When you see neurodevelopmental, it is simply talking about the wiring of the brain. Our ASD kiddos may be impacted through different parts within the brain that directly results in delayed emotional responses, the inability to focus or learn new things. But just as there are multiple ways to drive a road to a destination, their are multiple ways the brain works–it’s just up to use to figure out, in advance, road blocks.

Some facts about autism

  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates autism’s prevalence as 1 in 68 children in the United States. This includes 1 in 42 boys and 1 in 189 girls.
  • An estimated 50,000 teens with autism become adults – and lose school-based autism services – each year.
  • Around one third of people with autism remain nonverbal.
  • Around one third of people with autism have an intellectual disability.
  • Certain medical and mental health issues frequently accompany autism. They include gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, seizures, sleep disturbances, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxiety and phobias.

With all this being said…autism is not an impairment but a challenge for parents, friends, family, educators and doctors to be open minded to the layers of communication without judgement or expectation but acceptance.

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