What Does Autism Look Like?


Reading about the signs of and behaviors associated with autism can offer parents a useful overview of the disorder. Being able to see what autism looks like is even more useful in gaining an understanding of this complex disorder.

We hear so much about autism in the media these days that it is easy to get overwhelmed with information and be unsure about whether our children could be affected. Autism is complex, and no two children with the same diagnosis will present with the same symptoms. Knowing – or not knowing — just what kinds of behaviors to look for can be confusing and frightening.

An excellent resource for visual representations of autism is The ASD Video Glossary, AutismNavigator, and FirstWords and accessible through all of these organizations’ websites. This video glossary provides clear, straightforward videos of a number of autism-related topics.

The Overview section includes a video of what different children with autism look like as they go about their play. There is also a video that presents the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) criteria for autism.

This video explains briefly but thoroughly how all criteria (delays in communication, restricted and repetitive behaviors, and deficits in social reciprocity) present themselves and shows examples of these deficits.

There is a series of videos demonstrating the non-verbal behaviors associated with autism: eye gaze, facial expressions, body postures, and gestures.

This is followed by a series of videos on expressive and receptive language and a series on restrictive patterns of interest. A series on over-reaction to sensory input rounds out the available videos.

These videos are brief, and many show a typically developing child’s behavior in these areas by way of comparison to those with “red flags” for autism.

There are links to sections on treatments and outcomes which are not yet loaded, but the site states they are “coming soon.”

The videos are brief and informative, and registration for this free service is simple. Once you register, you have immediate access to the videos.

Because autism is so complex, these visual guides are extremely helpful in helping parents to understand what autism looks like in the developing child.


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