Autism is a developmental disorder that is characterized by impaired development in communication, social interaction, and behavior. Autism is classified as a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), which is part of a broad spectrum of developmental disorders affecting young children and adults--the Autistic Spectrum Disorders (ASD). The range of these disorders varies from severely impaired individuals with autism to other individuals who have abnormalities of social interaction but normal intelligence--Asperger's syndrome. In the past, autism has been confused with childhood schizophrenia or childhood psychosis.

  1. Impaired reciprocal social interaction - Examples include the following:
  2. Poor use of body language and nonverbal communication, such as eye contact, facial expressions, and gestures
  3. Lack of awareness of feelings of others and the expression of emotions, such as pleasure (laughing) or distress (crying), for reasons not apparent to others
  4. Remaining aloof, preferring to be alone
  5. Difficulty interacting with other people and failure to make peer friendships
  6. May not want to cuddle or be cuddled
  7. Lack of or abnormal social play
  8. Not responding to verbal cues (acting as if deaf)