au·​tism | \ ˈȯ-ˌti-zəm How to pronounce autism (audio) \

Definition of autism

: a variable developmental disorder that appears by age three and is characterized especially by difficulties in forming and maintaining social relationships, by impairment of the ability to communicate verbally or nonverbally, and by repetitive behavior patterns and restricted interests and activities … the chief diagnostic signs of autism are social isolation, lack of eye contact, poor language capacity and absence of empathy …— Vilayanur S. Ramachandran et al.

called also autistic disorder

— see autism spectrum disorder

Examples of autism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Wellesley police are asking for the public’s help in finding and returning an iPad to a 3-year-old boy with autism who uses the device to communicate with his parents. Danny Mcdonald,, "Wellesley police ask for help finding iPad for boy with autism," 16 Aug. 2019 The tantalizing jamboree is hosted by and benefits the Tres Doux Foundation, a nonprofit which provides grants to local autism programs. Perri Ormont Blumberg, Southern Living, "The 4th Annual Beignet Fest Returns to New Orleans This October 5th," 15 Aug. 2019 Last week, Illinois became the latest state to add autism. Laura Hancock,, "After second look, state committee rejects Ohio medical marijuana for anxiety, autism," 14 Aug. 2019 Within the realm of impact investing, Moai Capital will have a particular focus on autism employment. Polina Marinova, Fortune, "What Tumblr’s 2013 Billion-Dollar Valuation Tells Us About How We Value Startups Today: Term Sheet," 13 Aug. 2019 Amazon recently stopped selling books that promote bleach as an autism treatment or cure. Sarah Kurchak, Vox, "Fake autism treatments show the lengths parents will go to “cure” their kids," 13 Aug. 2019 Waves of Impact also teaches wounded veterans and children with autism how to surf. Hillary Davis, Daily Pilot, "Children with special health needs have a carefree day in the Newport surf," 12 Aug. 2019 The 11 additional conditions that now qualify for medical cannabis use include chronic pain, anorexia nervosa and autism. Jamie Munks,, "New law broadens access to medical marijuana, makes state program permanent," 12 Aug. 2019 The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), which has worked with the Eagles on autism advocacy initiatives in the past, sponsored the room. Lauren Del Valle, CNN, "Philadelphia Eagles open sensory room for fans with autism," 9 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'autism.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of autism

1944, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for autism

see aut-

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Last Updated

19 Aug 2019

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The first known use of autism was in 1944

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au·​tism | \ ˈȯ-ˌtiz-əm How to pronounce autism (audio) \

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 autistic disorder

— see autism spectrum disorder

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with autism

Spanish Central: Translation of autism

Nglish: Translation of autism for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about autism

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