Medical Definition of autism
: 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 <But more than 60 years after it was first identified, autism remains mystifying and stubbornly difficult to treat. About the only thing parents, doctors and policy makers agree on is that the best chance for autistic children to develop social and language skills is to enroll them in some type of intensive behavioral therapy.—Benedict Carey, The New York Times, 27 Dec. 2004> <Although the chief diagnostic signs of autism are social isolation, lack of eye contact, poor language capacity and absence of empathy, other less well known symptoms are commonly evident. Many people with autism have problems understanding metaphors, sometimes interpreting them literally. They also have difficulty miming other people's actions.—Vilayanur S. Ramachandran et al., Scientific American, November 2006> <In approximately 10% of patients, autism can be explained by genetic syndromes and known chromosomal anomalies …—Lauren A Weiss et al., The New England Journal of Medicine, 14 Feb. 2008>—called also ; see autism spectrum disorder
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up autism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).