What is Autism?

What is Autism?

What is Autism?

You may have heard the saying that “If you know one person with autism, you know one person with autism.”

Autism is a developmental disability – a condition that affects the way a person thinks, learns, behaves and communicates. It’s also a spectrum disorder – which means people with autism can experience life very differently from one person to the next.

Generally speaking, individuals with autism may struggle to communicate and socialize; they may also experience repetitive behaviors like hand-flapping or body rocking.

In some cases, behaviors may be more severe, and can become aggressive or self-injurious — behaviors that in many instances, can be linked back to those difficulties communicating what they want or need.

Just as the characteristics of a person with autism vary greatly from one person to the next – so does the level of independence among individuals. Many function independently, with minimal support, and going through their lives in typical educational and work settings.

Other individuals need a greater level of support — and many seek the help of organizations like Bancroft, supported and encouraged in every walk of life by direct support professionals, therapists and others who assist the students, children, men and women we serve to learn how to live life as independently as possible and empower them to realize their best life.

It is a lifelong condition.

People with autism may exhibit some of the following behaviors:
  • Avoid eye contact
  • Prefer to be alone
  • Prefer not to be touched
  • Appear unresponsive to conversation
  • Repeat words or phrases
  • Repeat actions
  • Have difficulty accepting change
  • Have difficulty expressing their needs
  • Lose skills they’ve previously exhibited


While many people with autism have significant cognitive impairments, some are gifted and have above-average IQs. Sometimes autism is accompanied by remarkable or prodigious skills, for example, in math, art, memory, or music.

Autism affects all demographics, although men are four times as likely to be diagnosed as women. There is no single cause or cure, but most research suggests there is a genetic component to autism. The theory populated in the late 1990’s that autism is caused by vaccines has been disproven many times over: vaccines do not cause autism.

Supporting people diagnosed with autism is demanding and impactful work. No two days are the same, but intervention services can make a real difference by helping people with autism build life skills and live rewarding and enriched lives.

If you’re seeking an assessment or diagnosis, learn more about Bancroft’s Diagnostic services.


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