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medical : a condition or disorder that begins in childhood and that causes problems in forming relationships and in communicating with other people
Full Definition of AUTISM
: a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns
: a developmental disorder that appears by age three and that is variable in expression but is recognized and diagnosed by impairment of the ability to form normal social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate with others, and by stereotyped behavior patterns especially as exhibited by a preoccupation with repetitive activities of restricted focus rather than with flexible and imaginative ones
Neurobiological disorder that affects physical, social, and language skills. First described by Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger in the 1940s, the syndrome usually appears before 2 years of age. Autistic infants appear indifferent or averse to affection and physical contact. They may be slow in learning to speak and suffer episodes of rage or panic; they may also appear deaf and display an almost hypnotized fascination with certain objects. Autism is often characterized by rhythmic body movements such as rocking or hand-clapping and by an obsessive desire to prevent change in daily routines. Autistic individuals may be hypersensitive to some stimuli (e.g., high-pitched sounds) and abnormally slow to react to others (e.g., physical pain). The disorder is three to four times more common in males. Though postnatal factors such as lack of parental attention were once blamed, it is now known that autism is the result of abnormalities in the brain structure. About 15–20% of autistic adults live and work independently; high-functioning autistic people may have special abilities based on their unusual ability for visual thinking. See alsosavant syndrome.