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

Suffering from autism that was never diagnosed or treated, Martin grew increasingly lonely and isolated at work, said the final sentencing memo obtained by The Baltimore Sun. Juliana Kim,, "Glen Burnie man who stole, hoarded millions of classified NSA documents sentenced to nine years in federal prison," 19 July 2019 Two years ago, the chain added clothing designed for children with sensory processing sensitivities, which can include autism. Sophie Sherry And Christina Zdanowicz, CNN, "Kids with disabilities can now get special Halloween costumes at Target," 17 July 2019 The school has approved concept reviews for associate degree programs in construction management, an electricity technical diploma, an autism technician program and a digital marketing technical diploma. Alec Johnson, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Rising importance of technical college prompts local visit by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes," 16 July 2019 Learning the same from natural social interaction actually helps build theory of mind, another secret language thought to be missing in autism. Vivienne Ming, Quartz, "Why I’m turning my son into a cyborg," 15 July 2019 At least 80% of staff is trained and certified in the autism field. Molly Bohannon, azcentral, "OdySea Aquarium is now the first 'Certified Autism Center' in Arizona," 15 July 2019 If Pederson wins, Reich will donate to the Eagles Autism Challenge, which helps build awareness for autism within the community. Robby General, Indianapolis Star, "Frank Reich and Eagles coach Doug Pederson wager on golf game for charity," 11 July 2019 Norwest Venture Partners has invested in Gateway Learning Group Inc., the latest infusion of capital by private-equity firms in companies that focus on autism. Laura Cooper, WSJ, "Norwest Venture Partners Invests in Autism Specialist Gateway Learning," 9 July 2019 Much of the curriculum will be based on community involvement and field trips to teach the children with Down syndrome, autism or cerebral palsy how to handle themselves in various situations. Jane Stueckemann, Houston Chronicle, "New school focused on special needs children to open in Oak Ridge North," 9 July 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

22 Jul 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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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 Encyclopedia article about autism

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