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What is Autism?

Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is medically classified as a lifelong cognitive (brain) based disorder that includes social communication issues, repetitive behaviors, intense love for routine, and difficulties interpreting ‘big picture’ concepts. The ASD brain has unique strengths and challenges. More symptoms that are associated with Autism include, sensory issues or sensory needs, lack of eye contact or interest, difficulties regulating emotions, and difficulties with social norms and reading facial expressions/gestural cues. Due to these symptoms, it is not uncommon for families to feel disconnected from the world the individual with autism is living in. For example, individuals with Autism will struggle with maintaining eye contact when in conversation. The same individual will have a challenging time showing emotions appropriately and may have huge reactions (tantrums) to slight changes in their routine. The severity of ASD and these symptoms can vary among individuals, which is why Autism is referred to as being on a spectrum.

Autism has become more prevalent and now affects 1 in 54 children. Autism is mostly caused by genetics. There is, unfortunately, no cure for Autism, but there are intervention approaches that teach social communication and teach how to interpret the world. Current intervention approaches include Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA), Occupational Therapy (OT), Speech Therapy (SLP), Dietary Approaches, Residential Housing/Shared Communities, and Medication (if necessary). For an individual with ASD to be successful, it is crucial that they’re receiving the correct services and that they have access to support and connections they may need.

Essentially, Autism is simply a unique way of thinking and viewing the world. The way an autistic brain views a situation is extremely different from the typical brain. In an autistic brain, it is more common to feel overstimulated by all the sensations in the environment. For example, someone with autism will start to feel overwhelmed by noisy, bright, crowded places because there are too many sensations being presented at once. Prioritizing and regulating sensations with emotions can be very challenging and may lead to tantrums/overstimulation.

Everyone who has Autism has the ability to live a fulfilling life, despite their relationship with the world around them. It ultimately comes down to the support and services these individuals receive and the connections they have. Autism should never be viewed as a misfortune or a shame, instead, it should be celebrated and explored!

If you feel that you or a loved one with Autism is not receiving the correct support or services they should be, contact The Team Shawnie Advocacy Group today. (website : / email:

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What is Autism?

When people refer to “Autism” today, they are usually talking about Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), which is a brain-based disorder characterized by social-communication challenges and restricted repetitive behaviors, activities, and interests. 

  • 1 and 54 children have autism
  • Lifelong developmental disability that affects how we communicate with and interact with the people around us. Also affects how the individuals perceives the world around them     
  • Autism is a spectrum which means severity of the symptoms varies (from low, mild, mild-moderate, moderate, moderately-severe, severe, profoundly severe)
  • Autism is a genetic and environmental disorder
  • NOT ILL OR BROKEN – just a different view and interpret of the world

Autism – ASD — Autism Spectrum Disorder

Typical vs. atypical development

What makes a person with Autism different?
Persons with Autism are classified as having an atypical or neurodiverse brain.
Persons without Autism are referred to as typically developing.

Typically developing people are able to: understand the environment around them, easily adapt to changes, express communicative wants and needs, and control their emotions.

In the atypical brain of an individual with Autism, their views on the world are different. Individuals with ASD see the micro instead of the macro.

It is common for individuals with ASD to feel anxious in new situations. They have a hard time regulating emotions and expressing the emotions they are feeling. This abundance of unprocessed emotions leads to tics and stimming.

Tics and stimming are signs that the individual is feeling uncomfortable, this is their way of self-regulating.

Stimming can be defined as repetitive behaviors used to help balance emotional instability. (Ex. Flapping of the hands, bouncing up and down, rocking back and forth). Tics and Stimming should not be discouraged unless the behavior is self-harming or a harm to others.

If the individual is becoming absorbed by their tic and stimming, and it is becoming unproductive, it may be time to step in. The continuation of tics/stimming stems from feeling anxious or stressed.

Early signs of autism 

  • Lack of eye contact
  • Irregular emotions and behaviors
  • Lack of interest in playing with the caregiver
  • Does not try to imitate play
  • Has sensory issues (dislikes being dirty or is a picky eater due to food texture)
  • Late for developmental milestones (talking, walking, academia)

Symptoms of autism / the spectrum (include but are not limited to…)

  • Love of routine
  • Sensory issues / sensory needs
  • Difficulties with social situations and social norms
  • Difficulties reading facial expressions
  • Difficulties with idioms and

Treatment plans and options 

  • No cure but there are intervention approaches that promotes success in the lives of ASD individuals
  • ABA therapy
  • With the correct support and connections, someone with ASD can live an ideal life.

Every case of Autism is different.
Autism should never be shamed, but instead celebrated and explored.

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