About Autism

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Answering the question "What is autism?" is one of the most challenging aspects of the autism spectrum. Colorful puzzle pieces serve as iconic representations of the conditions to represent the mystifying nature of pervasive developmental disorders.

What Is Autism

Defining autistic disorders is troublesome because they are quite complicated and there is much confusion about the conditions. Even their designations are subject to puzzlement.

Names of Autism

Becoming familiar with the autism spectrum can be confusing, and the terminology can be troublesome. The autism spectrum consists of five pervasive developmental disorders. Autism is one of the five PDD conditions.

  • A person can be autistic and not have autism per se. Individuals diagnosed with Ret's syndrome, PDD-not otherwise specified, and autism may be referred to as autistic.
  • Asperger's Syndrome is considered mild autism by some while others prefer to recognize Aspergers as its own distinct condition, as outlined in the DSM-IV.

The Spectrum

The severity of autism symptoms is very broad across the spectrum. One child may exhibit relatively mild symptoms while another with the same diagnosis may have very severe impairments. Some children grow to lead independent adult lives and others require constant care and supervision.

Media Portrayal

Autistic disorders are further confused by the way the condition is sometimes portrayed. Many people with autism:

  • Are extremely affectionate
  • Love to be held
  • Display empathy
  • Want to play with others
  • Make excellent eye contact
  • Do not view others as objects

Studies show that people with autism perceive faces as objects. This is not unlike an artist's perception and does not indicate that they are unable to relate to others. The complexity lies in the ability to communicate thoughts and feelings adequately while interpreting the thoughts and feelings of others in turn.


Whether it is a disorder, delay, syndrome, or simply a way of being, autism is an integral part of our experience. LoveToKnow Autism strives to present the latest information about pervasive developmental disorders.

About Autism