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Some Words You Need To Know About Autism

Applied Behav­ior Analysis:

Ther­apy orig­i­nally designed by Dr. Lovaas at UCLA. Uses a method of teach­ing lan­guage and behav­iors by rein­force­ment. Cur­rently, the only “approved” treat­ment for autism. Sup­ported by exten­sive clin­i­cal evidence.

Atten­tion Deficit Dis­or­der (ADD):

This is a dis­or­der where a per­son isn’t able to focus on the task at hand and often has impul­sive or chal­leng­ing behav­iors. Often diag­nosed with autism. There are three subtypes:

o ADHD– Hyperactive

o ADHD– Inattentive

o ADHD=combined type

Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­ders (ASD):

This is a col­lec­tion of dis­or­ders where a per­son has symp­toms such as com­mu­ni­ca­tion and social dif­fi­cul­ties. It now includes PDD, Asperg­ers, HFA and clas­si­cal autism.

Pre­vi­ous Autism Spec­trum Dis­or­der Types: 

Asperger’s Syn­drome (AS):

This is a dis­or­der on the autism spec­trum where a per­son has rel­a­tively nor­mal speech and social dif­fi­cul­ties. A child may not be diag­nosed until they are older. This diag­no­sis is now part of the Autism Spec­trum Disorders.

“Clas­si­cal” Autism:

This diag­no­sis used to be given to indi­vid­u­als who are severely chal­lenged with com­mu­ni­ca­tion and behav­iors and who require sig­nif­i­cant support.

High Func­tion­ing Autism:

Like Asperg­ers, it has been folded into the larger diag­no­sis of ASD. It denotes a per­son with autism who has at least aver­age intelligence.

Regres­sive Autism: 

Autism which appears between 18 and 36 months. A child appears to be devel­op­ing typ­i­cally, with aver­age com­mu­ni­ca­tion and social skills, and who “loses” these skills over a short period of time (often less than three months).


Per­va­sive Devel­op­men­tal Dis­or­der, Not Oth­er­wise Specified

Denotes a diag­no­sis given when a typ­i­cally young child did not meet the DSM cri­te­ria for a diag­no­sis of autism, but who dis­played many of the symp­toms of autism.

Phys­i­cal Ther­apy (PT):

Ther­apy designed to improve phys­i­cal skills and decrease sen­si­tiv­i­ties to overstimulation.

Fine Motor Skills:

Move­ments that involve smaller move­ments like writ­ing, draw­ing, and but­ton­ing a coat.

Gross Motor Skills:

Move­ments that involve larger mus­cle groups such as walk­ing, jump­ing, and running.


A per­son with autism who has an unusual and spe­cific area of intel­li­gence, often in the area of math, artis­tic abil­ity, mem­o­riza­tion, or musi­cal skills. This is present in approx­i­mately 10 per­cent of peo­ple with autism.

Self Stimulating/Self Sooth­ing “Stims” or “Stimming”:

Repet­i­tive behav­iors like hand flap­ping, spin­ning wheels, or seek­ing pres­sure as a method of show­ing excite­ment or self-calming.

Speech and Lan­guage Therapy:

Ther­apy designed to improve pro­nun­ci­a­tion (speech) and func­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion (language).


The ver­bal rep­e­ti­tion of words or phrases with­out using those words for func­tional com­mu­ni­ca­tion or mean­ing. Some younger chil­dren with ASD will be echolalic before they begin to speak in sen­tences. Some­times, echolalia includes the rep­e­ti­tion of com­mer­cials or TV shows that the child is inter­ested in.