What is autism?
Autism is a Pervasive Developmental Disorder that results from a disorder in the human central nervous system. It is defined by the presence of abnormal development that is visible before the age of 3, and by the characteristic type of abnormal functioning in all three areas of social interaction, communication, and restricted, repetitive behaviour.
• Infants that are developing normally respond socially and will look at faces or orient towards voices. In contrast, most autistic children show little interest in faces and have to learn to engage in social interaction. Even in the first few months of life, many autistic children seem indifferent to other people, lacking the eye contact and interaction with others that non-autistic children have naturally. Some infants with autism can be very calm and cry less often or don’t look for attention from their parents. Other children develop normally for the first two years of life, but then regress unexpectedly and miss out on really important developmental achievements. Autistic children often seem to prefer being alone, and can passively accept things as hugs and cuddles without really responding or showing affection themselves. Later on, they rarely look for comfort from others or respond to parents' displays of anger or affection in a typical way. Autistic children’s show of affection and social interaction with their parents have been researched, and they found that many of these children do bond with their parents, even though people always believed that they didn’t. This bond could be difficult for others to recognize because an autistic child's particular ways of expressing this attachment can differ from the ways of expression used by other autistic kids. So even though social deficits are common, autistic children vary a lot in their levels of social attachment and interaction.
• Some people with autism show advanced cognitive...