What is Autism?

A pervasive developmental disorder, autism affects information processing in multiple ways. Many people with autism have difficulties with social interactions and communication, sensory deficits, and poor motor coordination. Autistic people often have restricted interests and engage in repetitive behaviors.

Because autism's symptoms vary greatly, it's said to exist on a spectrum, and is increasing referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorder. (Asperger's is a condition often referred to as "high functioning" autism.) Some people with autism have low intelligence while others are quite intelligent.

Autism usually manifests by age two. It affects far more males than females. The frequency of diagnosis has surged over the past 20 years. No one knows for sure what causes autism, but numerous studies link it to advanced maternal and/or paternal age at conception.

Reports implicating mercury-containing vaccines have proved baseless, although there is some evidence that environmental toxins may play a role. Some research suggests that autism reflects an "extreme male brain," because people with the condition often have an obsession with details and systemizing but are low on empathizing ability. There is no cure for autism, although some symptoms may ameliorate over the years.

Recent Posts on Autism

How Youth Wind Up Taking Antipsychotic Medications

Yes, the number of kids taking antipsychotic medications is rising, but what does that mean? A new study begins to illuminate the process being the prescriptions.

Envisioning the Future for Your Child with Autism

By Chantal Sicile-Kira on February 25, 2015 in The Autism Advocate
When envisioning the future of your child as an adult – any child – it’s important to focus on the strengths that are apparent. And as the parent of a child with autism, it’s even more important. The strengths your child has will help him overcome his deficits, perhaps even become a way for your child to be employed as an adult, or be motivated to learn new skills.

The Sound Of Silence

By Lynne Soraya on February 21, 2015 in Asperger's Diary
I have recently come face-to-face with a fact about myself: I have a problem with silence. I’m not really sure why.

Asked and Answered

By Amy S.F. Lutz on February 20, 2015 in Inspectrum
Hundreds of individuals with developmental disabilities, families, providers and advocates came out yesterday to oppose New Jersey's plan to force all waiver recipients into integrated settings -- whether or not full community inclusion is safe, appropriate, or even desired -- with speakers calling the restrictions "violations of the ADA."

Mr. Putin, Would You Lie Still So We Can Scan Your Brain?

By Gregg Murray Ph.D. on February 15, 2015 in Caveman Politics
How do we predict dangerous leaders' actions when they won't answer our proven psychological questionnaires or lie still for our fMRI bran scans? Well, here are a couple of choices.

Your Child With Autism: Life as an Adult & Planning Ahead

By Chantal Sicile-Kira on February 09, 2015 in The Autism Advocate
Once your child starts is no longer eligible for school services under IDEA because he or she has graduated from high or aged out of school services (at age 22 in most states), there is nothing guaranteed for your adult child. Your adult child may be eligible for services, but that does not mean that he or she will receive services. Planning ahead is necessary.

The Diagnostic Swamp of Childhood Bipolar Disorder NOS

Just published in one of the world’s leading psychiatric journals is a study documenting the dramatic change in bipolar disorder NOS (not otherwise specified) diagnosed in children and adolescents aged 2 to 19 years from 1999 to 2010.

Rigidity v Chaos: A Diametric Model of Brain Networks

A new schema of semantic networks in the hemispheres of the brain fits the diametric model perfectly.

Discover This One Secret That Will Change Your Life

By Stephen Borgman on January 31, 2015 in Spectrum Solutions
Millionaires commit and dedicate themselves to this simple habit. Why not you?

On Vaccines and Autism: An Open Letter to Larry Wilmore

By David Kyle Johnson Ph.D. on January 29, 2015 in A Logical Take
Larry Wilmore, the host of The Nightly Show, knows that vaccines are safe and effective. Unfortunately, he has no idea how to host a show that communicates that fact.

Synesthesia and Neurodiversity

By Maureen Seaberg on January 27, 2015 in Sensorium
The neurodiversity movement grew out of the autism community

Figuring Out Friendship

By Lynne Soraya on December 31, 2014 in Asperger's Diary
Over the past few months, I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship. What I understand about it, what I still don’t, and how the experience of friendship has always been different that it has been for others.

Autism Adult Transition: My Son Moves Into His Own Place

By Chantal Sicile-Kira on December 29, 2014 in The Autism Advocate
In September, Jeremy moved into his own place. For Jeremy who is autistic, who communicates by typing and has many sensori-motor challenges, moving meant more than just transferring to another living space.

5 Right Ways to Think About Living With Autism

By Stephen Borgman on December 28, 2014 in Spectrum Solutions
It's time to rethink autism advice by asking those who know: adults with autism/Aspergers. Here are 5 tips for living for autism: from those who know.

The Plague of Modern, Mechanized, Multi-cultural Life

Plagues, like mechanization, modernization, and multi-culturalism, isolate individuals in ways comparable to autism.

Navigating Grief and Loss as an Autistic Adult

By Lynne Soraya on December 24, 2014 in Asperger's Diary
It’s the holiday season...a time for reflection, togetherness, and joy, so they say. As I’ve written before, it hasn’t always been that way for me. This holiday season has been an especially difficult one. One of my best friends passed away over Thanksgiving weekend.

High Functioning Aspies Don't Know What Real Autism Is

By John Elder Robison on December 22, 2014 in My Life With Asperger's
Attacking autistic self advocates, and suggesting that the "only real autism" is the kind that calls for round-the-clock care is wrong, destructive, and frankly insulting. Better we join together and work toward a tomorrow that's better for all of us, by pooling our shared wisdom. Autistic people and autism parents are not natural born enemies. It only seems that way.

Holiday Gift Guide for Parents of Children with Autism

By Darren Sush Psy.D., BCBA-D on December 18, 2014 in All the Pieces
Confused about what to get your friend of family member who has a child with autism or special needs? Most of the time, they just want what any other parent would like – a gift from the heart that shows that you really care. I’ve worked with Shannon Penrod, host of Autism Live, to compile some go-to gifts that are sure to please.

Not Me, Couldn't Be: The Devil made me do it!

We are all possessed by an unruly spirit of one sort or another that takes the heat why things go awry, however you may wish to identify it.

5 Keep Cool Travel Tips for Parents of Children with Autism

By Darren Sush Psy.D., BCBA-D on December 10, 2014 in All the Pieces
Traveling with a child with special needs takes preparation and planning to help ensure that the trip is safe and enjoyable for not only the child, but also the parents. Finding resources and strategies to remain calm can not only make the travel experience more enjoyable for you, but also your child. 

The Sensory and the Psychical: A Link Worth Exploring

By Michael Jawer on December 06, 2014 in Feeling Too Much
Genuine differences in sensory processing – and, consequently, a different sense of self – may relate to who reports anomalous perceptions and who generates psychical anomalies.

Recognizing Autism and Emotion in Brain Scans

By John Elder Robison on December 04, 2014 in My Life With Asperger's
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University are on the cusp of reading minds, as they use a sophisticated MRI scanner to read and recognize emotions in subject's minds with striking accuracy. Even more significantly, they separate autistic from non-autistic subjects with 97% accuracy with nothing more than a few minutes in a scanner.

Robinson Crusoe: an Autistic Fantasy With Universal Appeal

The sensational success of Robinson Crusoe lies in its perfect portrayal of the autistic fantasy of escape from the general Plague of Mankind.

The Whites of Your Eyes Convey Subconscious Truths

By Christopher Bergland on November 27, 2014 in The Athlete's Way
A new study has found that our eye whites communicate important social cues that are key to our bonding and survival at a conscious and unconscious level,

Autism Thanksgiving Thoughts: A Peep Inside My Mind

By Stephen Borgman on November 26, 2014 in Spectrum Solutions
I'm thankful to you, my autism community and readers, for seven autism Thanksgiving blessings. My favorite is number 2.

Answers: Beliefs About ABA

Answering the question - What is Applied Behavior Analysis ?

Autism, Purkinje Cells, and the Cerebellum Are Intertwined

By Christopher Bergland on November 25, 2014 in The Athlete's Way
A November 24, 2014 study from the University of Chicago Medical Center identified that Purkinje cells in the cerebellum are linked to motor skill deficits in autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Seinfeld Recants Autism Diagnosis

By Amy S.F. Lutz on November 24, 2014 in Inspectrum
Although Jerry Seinfeld recanted his autism diagnosis last week, the use of autism and other disorders as slang for various personality traits is ongoing and has a significant impact on those who truly suffer from these conditions. If we can't get society to change, maybe it's time to change the names?

Blindness and Schizophrenia: The Exception Proves the Rule

The unexpected finding that protection against schizophrenia is conferred by congenital cortical but not peripheral blindness gives credence to the diametric model’s claim that hyper-mentalism is the core pathology in psychosis.

How Are Purkinje Cells in the Cerebellum Linked to Autism?

By Christopher Bergland on November 19, 2014 in The Athlete's Way
Scientists at the annual 2014 Society for Neuroscience meeting (November 14-19) in Washington D.C. presented unpublished research that links the Purkinje cells of the cerebellum with autism spectrum disorders.