What is Autism?


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Autism is a lifelong neurological disability that affects a person’s ability to communicate, understand language, play and socially interact with others. Autism is classified as a developmental disability because it interferes with the typical rate and patterns of childhood development. The first signs of autism usually appear as before age three.

WHAT ARE THE CHARACTERISTICS OF AUTISM?Every person with autism is different. However, there are some common characteristics of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

  • May have difficulty in using and understanding language, and understanding the perspectives of other people.
  • May require more direct specialized instruction in social, play and friendship skills than other children
  • May have unusual sensitivity or undersensitivity to sound, sight, taste, touch, or smell.
  • May show unusual repetitive behaviors or speech patterns, such as switching a light on and off repeatedly, or humming loudly.
  • May have difficulty with changes to surroundings or routines.
    Uneven skill development. Some skills are normal or superior for their age, while others exhibit significant delay.
  • May have difficulty maintaining a conversation, noticing facial expressions, or using gestures.


Nobody knows what causes autism. Some scientists believe there is a biological cause that affects the working of the brain, but this has not been proven. It is possible there are many factors that could interact with one another which could cause different characteristics in each individual with autism. Parents do not cause autism. No factors in a child’s experiences or in parenting styles are responsible for autism.

Currently the UCF Center for Autism & Related Disabilities (UCF-CARD) with the support of PALS provides services and support to over 13,000 individuals in Central Florida.