What Is Autism?

According to the CDC:

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. People with ASD often have problems with social communication and interaction, and restricted or repetitive behaviors or interests. People with ASD may also have different ways of learning, moving, or paying attention. It is important to note that some people without ASD might also have some of these symptoms. But for people with ASD, these characteristics can make life very challenging.

  • About 1 in 36 children has been identified with autism spectrum disorder (updated from 1 in 44 as of 5/16/24)
  • ASD is reported to occur in all racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups
  • ASD is more than 4 times more common among boys than among girls

The CDC has started a campaign called Learn The Signs: Act Early, which is an amazing resources. Early intervention is SO important if you suspect your child may have autism spectrum disorder, and this campaign helps to educate on the signs of autism in younger children.

Some of the trademark signs of autism are as follows:

  • Avoids or does not keep eye contact
  • Does not respond to name by 9 months of age
  • Does not show facial expressions like happy, sad, angry, and surprised by 9 months of age
  • Lines up toys or other objects and gets upset when order is changed
  • Repeats words or phrases over and over (called echolalia)
  • Plays with toys the same way every time
  • Is focused on parts of objects (for example, wheels)
  • Gets upset by minor changes
  • Has obsessive interests
  • Must follow certain routines
  • Flaps hands, rocks body, or spins self in circles

If you notice any of the above signs in your toddler, talk your doctor about your concerns. Remember: you are your child’s biggest advocate.