How is autism diagnosed?
There are no medical tests for autism. An accurate diagnosis is based on observations of the individual's communication, behavior, and developmental history by a multi-disciplinary team of professionals. However, medical tests may be ordered to rule out other possible causes of the symptoms being exhibited.
How is autism treated?
There is no cure for autism. However, evidence shows that early intervention results in positive outcomes for children with autism; and the earlier treatment begins, the better. Studies show that those with autism respond well to a highly-structured, specialized education program tailored to their needs. Some may need one-on-one or small group support, while others may be successful in a fully inclusive general education environment with supports.
What are people with autism like?
Every person with autism is an individual with a unique personality and personal likes and dislikes. People with autism vary greatly from one another. Some are mildly affected with only slight delays in language, while others are more highly impaired. Regardless of cognitive levels, all people with autism share difficulties with communication and social interaction. Because each individual responds to information differently, parents, educators, and care providers must address unique learning styles.
Contrary to prevailing stereotypes, many people with autism show affection, smile, offer eye contact, and display a sense of humor. With patience, understanding, and acceptance from others, people with autism can form a variety of meaningful relationships.
Autism is a spectrum disorder with varying degrees of severity of symptoms. Some adults can work independently and live in the community; some achieve semi-independence in the community with a need for support services; others will need lifelong support from families and service providers. Increasingly, adults with autism are advocating for themselves, share information, and offer support to each other. Individuals who can offer personal insight into what it is like to have autism can help others understand the disorder better.