A developmental disorder that affects communication and behaviour, and includes symptoms that impair the individual's ability to function properly in school, work and other areas of life. Although autism can be diagnosed at any age, it is said to be a "developmental disorder" because symptoms generally appear in the first two years of life. Autism is also known as a "spectrum" disorder because there is wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms people experience. People with ASD have difficulty with social communication and interaction (e.g. lack of eye contact, voice tones that sound sing-song or robotic, facial expressions or gestures that don't match what is being said), restricted interests (e.g., intense interest in numbers, details, facts), restrictive/repetitive behaviour (e.g., repeating words or phrases, getting upset at changes in routine or sensory input such as light or noise). People with ASD may also experience sleep problems or irritability, but also have many strengths including the ability to learn things in detail and remember information for long periods of time; being strong visual and auditory learners; and excelling in math, science, music or art. But although ASD can be a lifelong disorder and while children who have ASD have difficulty in talking, playing with other children, and relating to others, including their own family, treatment and services can improve their symptoms and ability to function.
A condition in which individuals exhibit a range of sub-average intellectual functioning concurrently with adaptive behaviour deficits which are manifested during the developmental period and which adversely affect educational performance. (Adaptive behaviour is measured by the effectiveness with which or the degree to which the individual is able to meet the standards of personal independence and social responsibility that are expected for the person's age and cultural group).
A recurrent paroxysmal disorder of cerebral function that is characterized by sudden, brief interruptions in or complete loss of consciousness, motor activity and/or sensory phenomena. The seizures are caused by disruptions in the electrical and physiochemical activity of the brain.
Any of a number of illnesses or conditions that are the direct result of the mutation of one or more genes. Some genetic disorders are hereditary, transmitted from parent to offspring, but others occur spontaneously and are not familial in origin.
The above terms and definitions are part of the Taxonomy of Human Services, used here by permission of INFO LINE of Los Angeles.