autism

noun
au·​tism | \ ˈȯ-ˌti-zəm \

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

So Xiao and her colleagues decided to look at RNA editing in the brains of people with autism. Diana Gitig, Ars Technica, "Autism involves a large-scale reduction in RNA editing," 21 Dec. 2018 First there was Julia, Elmo's friend with autism, and then there was Rudy, Abby's step-brother, who arrived with the rest of their blended family. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "'Sesame Street' Just Introduced a New Character Who Is Experiencing Homelessness," 13 Dec. 2018 Scientists have successfully used CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing to lessen some symptoms of autism in mice. Emily Price, Fortune, "Scientists Successfully Reduce Autism Symptoms in Mice Through Gene Editing," 27 June 2018 Learn more about how this mom's choice to go organic helped alleviate issues from her son's autism in the short video below. Mariko Zapf, Good Housekeeping, "I Had A Successful Vaginal Birth After A Cesarean (VBAC)—Here's What You Need To Know," 16 Nov. 2017 Ben Alexander, a nonverbal student with autism, graduated from Tulane May 19, with the support of his father who accompanied him to every class since 2014. Wilborn P. Nobles Iii, NOLA.com, "Tulane recognizes father's efforts in his autistic graduate's success," 29 May 2018 Other recent investments Pharos has backed include autism-care services provider Behavior Care Specialists and oncology practice and clinical research management company Verdi Oncology. WSJ, "Pharos Backs Home Health-Care Platform," 30 Oct. 2018 Nearly one in five people have a disability in the U.S., and 13 percent of kids enrolled in public school (about 6.7 million children) receive extra services for needs ranging from autism to hearing impairment. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Why cities need accessible playgrounds," 20 July 2018 University of California at San Diego's Center for Medicinal Cannabis Research will embark on a $4.7 million study next year to look at the effects of marijuana use to treat autism. Kathleen Gray, Detroit Free Press, "Autism, 10 other conditions now qualify patients for medical marijuana," 9 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of autism

1944, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for autism

see aut-

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about autism

Statistics for autism

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for autism

The first known use of autism was in 1944

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for autism

autism

noun
au·​tism | \ ˈȯ-ˌtiz-əm \

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on autism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with autism

Spanish Central: Translation of autism

Nglish: Translation of autism for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about autism

Comments on autism

What made you want to look up autism? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

involving abstract or general statements

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Liar, Liar Quiz

  • alt-5761dbe2ba986
  • Someone who pretends to be sick in order to avoid work is a:
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!