What you need to know

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What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that significantly affects verbal and nonverbal communication as well as social interaction. This is usually evident before the age of 3. Autism also adversely affects a child’s educational performance. Other characteristics often associated with autism are engagement in repetitive activities and stereotyped movements, resistance to environmental change or change in daily routines, and unusual responses to sensory experiences.

What Are Some Causes of Autism?

Some of the causes of autism are: neurological, genetic, and environmental factors. Genetic and neurological are the most common, but the environmental causes of autism disorder include sensitivity to certain foods, lack of vitamin intake, and certain immunizations that keep the body healthy from diseases. The vaccines would include: measles, mumps, rubella.

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Common Physical Characteristics Associated with Autism

Autism affects everyone differently, but there are some generalized characteristics that one would exhibit. These include:

-Slowness/choppy interruptions in speech and language

-Frequent and sudden physical movements

Examples: spinning, rocking

-Low eye-hand balance


-Intense sweating

Common Learning Characteristics Associated with Autism

As a parent or guardian of someone who has autism, it is important to know various learning characteristics that your child may encounter. These include:

Intellectual/Academic Characteristics

-Uneven skill development “splinter skills”

-Impaired verbal and reasoning skills

-Uneven academic achievement

-Poor reading comprehension



-Short attention span


-Impaired concentration

Behavioral Differences

Someone with autism can be very self-contained and experience a difficult time trying to interact with others because of speech problems. A person with autism may also struggle with being able to logically understand what others are trying to say to them, which affects how he/she is able to respond (or confidence in talking to others). Motions and other signals can also be very confusing for a someone with autism to interpret.
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References for Teachers and Parents