Common Characteristics

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects a person’s ability to socially communicate with others and the need to adhere to restricted and/or repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. It is a lifelong disorder, though there are a growing number of cases where children receive intensive treatments and eventually lead independent and fully functional lives. Although the characteristics of ASD vary from person to person, they can be categorized across two domains and exist on a continuum of varying severity. The two domains include social communication and behavior. Individuals with autism may appear to exhibit willful disobedience or noncompliance, though such behaviors are a reflection of the neurobiological nature of the disorder.

Common characteristics of the disorder include:

Social Communication and Social Interaction

  • Literal interpretation of others’ words
  • Difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships
  • Tendency to speak bluntly without regard for the impact of word on others
  • Inappropriate facial expressions, gestures, or eye contact
  • Limited imaginative or pretend play
  • Limited ability to initiate, respond to, or maintain conversation
  • Abnormal voice inflection and cadence
  • Overgeneralization of social behavior across all contexts and environments
  • Difficulty understanding or taking on others’ perspective

Restricted/ Repetitive Patterns of Behavior, Interests, or Activities

  • Stereotyped or repetitive behavior (e.g. lining up toys) or speech (e.g. echolalia)
  • Highly restricted interests and fixations
  • Rigid thinking patterns
  • Difficulty adapting to transitions or sudden changes in routine
  • Difficulty switching from one activity to the next
  • Hyper- or hyposensitivity to everyday sounds, textures, smells, lights, and/or movement

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