Saturday, May 28, 2011

What is autism? Part Two

Before I start getting in less finite interpretations of autistic behavior, I want to make sure that my readers have an understanding of what autism is.  To fully define autism, I looked in the place where definitions can be found: a dictionary.  I flipped through the pages searching for the word "autism."  Keep in mind that this was an older "American Heritage" dictionary published thirty years ago in 1981.  This book defined autism as: "Abnormal subjectivity; acceptance of fantasy rather than reality."  It went on to give a second definition: "A form of childhood schizophrenia, characterized by acting out and withdrawal."

This is an outdated definition of autism, in my opinion.  So much has been learned about the condition in the past thirty years that it can no longer be simply defined as "acting out" or "withdrawing."  Although those are visible characteristics of certain types of autism, this does not define the spectrum as a whole.

I resorted to the internet to find an alternative definition of autism. The Autism Society of America defines autism as follows:

"Autism is a complex developmental disability that typically appears during the first three years of life and is the result of a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain, impacting development in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Both children and adults with autism typically show difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities."

No comments:

Post a Comment