What does it mean to say autism is a spectrum disorder?

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Lisa Friedman, Inclusive Educator, Religious School Director, writer & speaker

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Autism is not a single disorder, but a spectrum of closely-related disorders with a shared core of symptoms. It is a way to explain that no two children with autism will demonstrate the same behaviors and/or characteristics. There is a wide degree of variation in the way autism affects people.

Here is an article with additional information about the various terms, symptoms, behaviors, etc: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/autism/autism-spectrum-disorders.html

Gina Badalaty, Parent of 2 kids with disabilities, Professional Blogger

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Autism affects each individual differently. There is a saying that "if you've met one person with autism, you've met one person with autism." That is, there is a broad spectrum of behaviors relating to autism that each child may or may not exhibit. In addition, there is a range of how well they function from high functioning autism to those who have severe difficulties and may need one-on-one aides.

For example, some kids with autism have sensory processing issues, especially with regard to hypersensitivity to touch. Because of this, some of them cannot be hugged or touched in areas like their arms or legs. Others have very low sensitivity so that they do not get a lot of sensory input from an area like the bottom of their feet. These kids may walk on their toes to increase the pressure on their feet. Others may have no sensory issues at all.

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