Emotional Wellbeing

Mental Health



Mandy Kloppers

Understanding Autism: What Is the Meaning of Autistic

Do you know someone who is autistic? Have you wondered, ”what is the meaning of autistic”? 

According to the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, about 1 in 40 children have autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study examined 43,000 children age 3 to 17 years. 

It’s important to become educated about autism so that you can distinguish fact from myth. Social media often spreads misinformation and creates fear among parents. Instead of being afraid, learn the truth. 

Continue reading this article to get the facts about autism. 

What Are the Criteria for an ASD Diagnosis? 

In 2013 the American Psychiatric Association updated its fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This update included a revision of the diagnostic criteria for ASD. The changes resulted from an in-depth review of research and clinical experience. 

The new diagnostic criteria focus on two areas. The first examines social communication and interaction. The second determines the presence of restrictive and repetitive behaviors. 

The diagnosis incorporates current and historic symptoms in these two areas. By definition, symptoms must start early in childhood. Yet, they may not be discovered until later when social demands exceed their capability. 

Recognized symptoms must create impairment in functional behavior. Social communication and interaction deficits must be ongoing. General developmental delays should not be a contributing factor. 

Specific social interaction diagnostic criteria: 

  • Difficulty interacting socially and emotionally with others 
  • Difficulty initiating and maintaining a back-and-forth conversation 
  • Difficulty sharing attention, interests, or emotional responses with others 
  • Severe inability to keep a relationship with others 
  • Demonstration of a lack of interest in other people 
  • Difficulty participating in age-appropriate social activities 
  • Difficulty coping with changes in social expectations 

Restrictive and repetitive behavior diagnostic criteria: 

  • Problems communicating and understanding nonverbal communications 
  • Presence of stereotyped ore repetitive speech, movements, or object use 
  • Overly strict adherence to routines 
  • Verbal and nonverbal ritualistic behaviors 
  • Excessive inability to cope with change 
  • Extreme focus or interest in a very restricted item or subject 
  • Increased or decreased responsiveness to sensory input 
  • Abnormal attraction to specific environmental sensations 

The diagnosis considers how much support the person needs to cope with the symptoms. Individuals are also screened for intellectual disabilities, impaired language development, medical conditions, and other behavioral problems. 

What Is the Meaning of Autistic for Parents? 

So, what is it like for the parent of an autistic child? First, it’s important to understand that individuals are unique. Even if they have ASD, they are still a unique person. 

Some people who meet the criteria for ASD aren’t recognized as such by others. They may experience mild symptoms and be able to function in society. Others may not receive the help they need because they don’t “seem autistic”. 

Parents with autistic children often need to take extra steps to ensure their child’s safety at home. This may include safety gates and doorknob locks. These children may engage in behaviors that increase their risk of self-injury. 

These safety precautions must extend to all locations where the child goes. For example, daycare, school, other family homes, church, and playgrounds. These children need careful supervision while shopping, traveling, or visiting entertainment centers. 

The ASD brain processes stimuli differently. Situations such as crowds, loud noises, and bright or blinking lights may increase anxiety and distress. Caregivers must watch for early signs of stress and take action to alleviate the symptoms. 

Some children with ASD are nonverbal. This does not mean they don’t have ideas, opinions, feelings, or imaginations. It’s important to develop a method for communicating with the child. 

Not all autistic children are nonverbal; however, some may face challenges in speech and language development. For these children, speech therapy becomes an essential tool to improve communication skills. Kid’s speech therapy activities are specifically designed to help autistic children express themselves effectively. These activities not only enhance verbal abilities but also enable them to navigate social interactions and strengthen connections with others.

A child may respond to sign language or other tools. Remember that they can hear even if they can’t speak. Be sure to continue speaking to the child even if they don’t seem to hear you. 

What Is it Like to Be Autistic? 

The intellectual ability of a person with ASD can be as varied as any other person. Many are intellectually gifted, talented, philosophical, and creative. Some of our most brilliant minds have exhibited ASD traits. 

Individuals with ASD often need to set routines to maintain a comfort level. Change is hard. Being spontaneous can result in increased stress and decreased ability to function. 

Social interaction is often difficult. Thus, persons with ASD often fail to develop a social network. They do not get invited to events or gatherings.  

The longer these individuals spend without social interaction, the more socially impaired they become. This leads to incredible loneliness. 

Management Approach for Autism 

Autism management plans must be individualized as every person is different. First, all deficits must be identified. From this point, a plan develops to address the specific needs. 

Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) has improved social interactions and behaviors. There are four major aspects of this scientific model. These characteristics involve the following: 

  • Objective assessment of the person and their environment for use in developing their treatment plan 
  • Developing an understanding of the person’s behavior in the context of their perceptions, their family, and their community 
  • Using ABAs principles and methods, the plan of care should increase the person’s independence and quality of life 
  • Objective assessment must continue to allow flexibility and adjustment of interventions as needed 

ABA has demonstrated positive outcomes in the treatment of ASD symptoms. To learn more about this treatment method, see here. 

Are You Interested in Learning More About Mental Disorders? 

People with ASD deserve individualized interactions and care. No one should make assumptions about what is the meaning of autistic conditions. A person is a person, not a diagnosis. 

Today, discussion of mental disorders has become more open. While this is good, misinformation is often shared via social media and other avenues. Our site focuses on discussing facts about mental disorders. 

Autism affects various forms of interactions in the modern world, and unfortunately, autistic individuals are more susceptible to online threats. Understanding this is a step in the right direction in aiding the treatment of Autistic individuals both offline and online. To learn more about this, see here.

This award-winning site provides reliable information to help you learn more about mental health. Continue checking out our site today to learn more. 


Mandy X