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People with Autism

Children with autism often appear relatively normal in their development until the age of 24-30 months, when parents may notice delays in language, play or social interaction.

The following areas are among those which may be affected by autism:

Communication:

Language develops slowly or not at all; use of words without attaching the usual meaning to them; communicates with gestures instead of words, short attention span

Social Interaction:

Spends time alone, rather than with others; shows little interest in making friends; less responsive to social cues such as eye contact or smiles

Sensory Impairment:

Unusual reactions to physical sensations such as being overly responsive to touch or under-responsive to pain; sight, hearing, touch, pain, smell and taste may be affected to a lesser or greater degree

Play:

Lack of spontaneous or imaginative play; does not imitate others’ actions; doesn’t initiate pretend games

Behaviors:

May be overactive or very passive; may throw frequent tantrums for no apparent reason; may perservate on a single item, idea, or person; apparent lack of common sense; may show aggressive or violent behavior or injure self

There are great differences among people with autism. Some individuals mildly affected may exhibit only slight delays in language but greater challenges with social interactions. They may have average or above average verbal, memory or spatial skills, but may find it difficult to be imaginative or join in a game of softball with their friends. Others more severly affected may need greater assistance handling day-to-day activities like crossing a street or making a purchase.

Contrary to popular belief, many children and adults with autism make eye contact, show affection, smile and laugh, and show a variety of other emotions, but in varying degrees. Like other children, they respond to their environment in both positive and negative ways. The autism may affect their range of responses and make it more difficult to control how their body and mind react. They live normal life spans, and the behaviors associated with may change or disappear over time.

While no one can predict the future, we do know that some adults with autism can live and work independently in the community, while others depend on the support of family and professionals. Adults with autism can benefit from vocational training to provide them with the skills needed for obtaining jobs, in additional to social and recreational programs. Adults with autism may live in a variety of residential settings, ranging from independent homes or apartments to group homes, supervised apartment settings, living with other family members, to more structured residental care.

Individuals with autism may have other disorders which affect the functioning of the brain, such as epilepsy, mental retardation, or genetic disorders such as Fragile X Syndrome. About two-thirds of those diagnosed with autism will test in the range of mental retardation. Approximately 25-30% may develop a seizure pattern at some period during life.

(Autism Society of America)