Autism is a spectrum disorder. That is, the symptoms and characteristics of ASD can present themselves in a wide variety of combinations, from mild to severe. Although ASD is defined by a set of certain characteristics, children and adults can exhibit any combination of these characteristics in any degree of severity. This means that two children, with the same diagnosis, can act very differently from one another and have varying skills and needs. For example, a child with autism can have an IQ of 80; another child with autism can have an IQ of 65. Additionally, children with a diagnosis of autism can be either nonverbal or verbal.
Every person with ASD is a unique individual and, like all individuals, has a unique personality and combination of characteristics. Some individuals with mild autism exhibit only slight delays in language but greater challenges with social interactions. For example, they may have difficulty initiating and/or maintaining a conversation. Individuals with autism are often described as talking at others instead of with others (e.g., they may monologue on a favorite subject that continues despite attempts by others to interject comments).
Children with ASD process and respond to information in unique ways. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present such as biting, hitting, or head banging. These children may also exhibit some of the following traits.