autism

noun
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

That compassion is centered around Austin's older brother Taylor, 16, who struggles with autism. Mayra Cuevas, CNN, "In a superhero cape, he feeds the city's hungry and homeless. And he's only 4," 21 May 2018 Here’s the twist: This was a local meeting of adults with autism, as well as family members and advocates. Michael S. Bernick, WSJ, "The Autism Community Focuses on Jobs, Not Grievances," 4 Jan. 2019 The app includes the ability to choose from a list of disabilities users might have, including autism, deaf-blindness, deafness, hearing impairment, intellectual disabilities, and physical disabilities among others. Elly Belle, Teen Vogue, "Best Dating Apps for Queer and LGBTQ People," 24 Aug. 2018 Certain table tennis clubs host clinics for those with Alzheimer’s, for instance, and others have specific programs for players with autism or Parkinson’s. Jenny Mccoy, SELF, "A Look Inside the Challenging and Misunderstood Sport of Table Tennis," 9 Jan. 2019 Some of her favorite clients are people who have difficulty communicating, like those with Alzheimer's disease or autism. Woman's Day Staff, Woman's Day, "How One Woman Is Using Art to Give a Voice to Those With Disabilities," 4 Dec. 2018 In 1997, Holly and Rodney founded the HollyRod Foundation, a charity dedicated to raising funds to fight Parkinson’s disease and autism. Emma Dibdin, Country Living, "Who Is Holly Robinson Peete? Meet the Star of Hallmark Movie, ‘Christmas in Evergreen’," 18 Nov. 2018 Animal anxiety shirts were directly inspired by research into humans with severe anxiety or autism. Emily Dreyfuss, WIRED, "Do Thundershirts Really Calm Dogs During Fireworks or What?," 3 July 2018 The park was also designed to accommodate guests with disabilities, including two desensitization spaces for children on the autism spectrum. Megan Barber, Curbed, "Stunning $465M park set to transform Tulsa’s riverfront," 30 Aug. 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

18 Mar 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 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

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

the range of authority or knowledge

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt-painting-a-young-scholar-and-his-tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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!