What is Autism?

Learn about autism, its symptoms and treatment

Autism is a developmental disorder that is usually first diagnosed in the first three years of life. The rate of autism diagnoses has climbed significantly in recent years, moving thousands of new families to anxiously research its symptoms and treatment. Autism affects boys three to four times more often than girls.

Symptoms of autism

The main signs and symptoms of autism involve communication, social interactions and repetitive behaviors.  These include:

  • Boy petting horse during autism therapy sessionAggression
  • Anxiety
  • Attention problems 
  • Delayed language development
  • Extreme compulsions
  • Heightened or low senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell or taste
  • Hyperactivity
  • Impulsiveness
  • Inability to make friends or play interactive games
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Outbursts
  • Repetitive body movements
  • Sleep difficulty
  • Tantrums

Because people with autism can have very different symptoms, health care providers refer to autism as a "spectrum" disorder.

What causes autism?

Autism has been linked to abnormal biology and chemistry in the brain.  Although it is believed that a combination of factors lead to autism, the exact causes remain unknown.  Genetic factors seem to be important.

Autism lasts throughout a person's lifetime.  There is no cure, but treatment can help.  An early, intensive, appropriate treatment program will greatly improve the outlook for most young children with autism.  

Best therapy or treatment options for autism

Treatments for autism can include behavior and communication therapies and medicines to control symptoms.  At Nature's Edge we find that patients with autism generally respond very well to our nonclinical setting.  Real-life activities and situations give them a natural context for experiencing self-expression, self-confidence, personal gratification and a sense of achievement.

Information resources for autism

We recommend these resources for more information on autism:


Of course, this is a very complex subject that affects each family differently, so we welcome you to contact Nature's Edge Therapy Center with your questions about autism, its symptoms and treatment.