Skip to content Skip to footer

What is Autism?

back of child sitting down

What is Autism?

According to the latest CDC data, 1 in 36 children are diagnosed with autism. But what do we mean when we say someone is autistic? What causes autism? What are the signs that a child has autism? There are many misconceptions surrounding autism. In this article, autism experts Dr. Ayesha Cheema-Hasan and Dr. Angelica Robles define autism, share common traits, and explain what an autism diagnosis means for a child.

How do we define autism?

Autism is a neurodevelopmental difference. The brain of an autistic child is wired differently than what is considered typical. It is important to remember that autism is not an illness or disease – the autistic brain simply processes information differently. Autism is not an illness that needs to be treated or cured in the traditional medical sense, but an accurate, timely diagnosis is essential, so that an autistic child receives the proper support and therapy needed to help them thrive and reach their full potential.

Are there any definitive signs that indicate autism?

two children in front of a laptop Autistic children have differences in the way they communicate, socialize and play. They typically have a strong preference for routines and familiar surroundings, and can have sensory differences. The autistic child can also engage in repetitive movements, also known as stimming. While we commonly see these traits in autistic children, it is important to remember that autism is a spectrum, and each child is unique. Not every autistic child will exhibit every trait, and some children without autism can engage in some of the behaviors listed above. Ultimately, it requires a proper evaluation by a highly-specialized medical professional to determine if a child is autistic.

What causes autism?

Doctors and medical researchers do not know what causes autism. The number of people being diagnosed appears to be increasing, but there is ongoing debate about the cause. It may be that more people are getting diagnosed because we have a better understanding of neurodevelopmental differences, and better tools to use for evaluations. It may be that there is a specific biological or environmental cause, and even a genetic component. It may be a combination of all of these things. Right now, we just don’t know, but research is ongoing.

What is the long-term outlook for a child diagnosed with autism?

AUTISM spelled out on multi-colored dice As mentioned earlier, each autistic child is unique. Many autistic children have average, or even above average intelligence. Some may have learning disabilities, or other medical conditions that may require an extra level of care and support. Regardless of their specific situation, all autistic children can lead full, happy and meaningful lives. The key to an autistic child thriving and reaching their full potential is early diagnosis and therapy.

If I suspect my child has autism, where can I get help?

mom helping child in front of laptop If you suspect your child has autism, the first thing to do is to contact your pediatrician for an evaluation, and to screen for any medical conditions, such as hearing or vision disorders. If everything checks out fine medically, but your doctor feels that your child could be autistic, it would be best to have your child see a specialist, such as a Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician. You can find out more about the steps to take here . You can also reach out to us here at Coralis Health. We are always here to help!
Coralis Health, LLC is a platform to connect neurodivergent and disabled children, adults, and caregivers with highly specialized healthcare providers, therapies, and services. Our care spans all ages, starting from the initial concerns and diagnosis, all the way through adulthood. Our goal is to create a world where all people can realize their full potential!
Coralis website shown on mobile, tablet and desktop