Individuals diagnosed with Autistic Disorder have abnormal or delayed development (before age three) in one or all of the following:  social interaction, language as used in social communication, or symbolic/imaginative play. Autistic disorder can be defined as an impaired development in social interaction and communication. There are many different manifestations of autism which are dependent on an individual’s chronological age and developmental level. Individuals that have autistic disorder often lack spontaneity, eye contact and facial expressions. They have trouble engaging in social interactions or lack the skills to interact with other people. They have little or no understanding of other peoples’ wants and needs. 





Impairment in social interaction

  • impairment of non-verbal behaviors to regulate social interaction, such as eye contact, facial expression, and body postures
  • failure to develop social and emotional  relationships with peers
  • lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment and interests with other people

Impairment in communication

  • delay or lack of development of spoken language
  • having adequate speech but marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others
  • repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language
  • lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level


Restricted and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities, as manifested by at least one of the following:

  • preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus
  • apparently inflexible adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines
  • stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms  (e.g., hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements)
  • persistent preoccupation with the parts of objects




Some adults with Autistic Disorder may have the desire to make friendships but lack the social skills to interact with people. They usually have trouble starting and/or sustaining a conversation, being spontaneous, and understanding other people’s feelings. Often, individuals with Autistic Disorder have abnormal speech patterns such as high pitch, monotonous, frequent repetitions of phrases or jingles that are not in context. They also have trouble comprehending simple questions and happenings.


Adults with Autistic Disorder tend to have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests, and activities. Some will have the same meal for lunch each day or insist on taking the same route to work. They like organization, structure, and pattern.  Many times, simple changes can result in distress and resistance. Some individuals with autism may also display abnormal body movements such as full body rocking, flapping of the hands, clapping, or toe walking. Each case of Autistic Disorder varies from the others. Many individuals gain increased interest in socialization as they grow older, and others deteriorate behaviorally. 

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