Archived | Autism Coalition: What Is Autism?, Common Characteristics & Possible Causes | Circa December 2003 #NotAnAutisticAlly #AutisticHistory

Autism Coalition: Not An Autistic Ally
Screenshot of Autism Coalition: What is autism? page. Full text below.

[Note: Shared for #AutisticHistory archive purposes. This is NOT An Autistic Ally.]

What Is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disability that generally appears between the ages of 15 and 20 months of age. In most cases, the child is progressing normally, and then begins to regress, losing speech, social skills and physical abilities. While there are varying degrees of severity, most children completely withdraw into a world of their own. 

A frightening aspect of the disorder is that children cannot assess sensory input properly. Autistic children cannot perceive fear or dangerous situations, nor can they filter and ignore stimulus. This sensory overload would be equivalent to your being intensely aware of the feel and color of this paper, the sensation of each article of clothing you are wearing, every single sound coming from the street and inside the building around you, and the fluorescent lights and every object that reflects the light near you. If a child with autism could read this letter, they would have to endure all this and more while trying to concentrate and comprehend this material. Normal functioning under this kind of sensory bombardment is nearly impossible. 

Autistic children typically have a host of biomedical and neurological problems as well. Many suffer from chronic diarrhea because their intestines are so damaged that they cannot absorb vital nutrients, minerals and vitamins essential for optimal brain function. Liver and kidney functions are impaired, causing their bodies to store up high levels of toxins found in the environment such as lead, mercury, arsenic and other heavy metals. Their immune systems are compromised to the extent that they cannot fight off even the simplest of fungal, parasitic and bacterial infections. 

Children do not outgrow autism. There is no cure. It is a lifelong disability with a normal life expectancy. It affects boys five times more than it affects girls, although girls are generally more severely affected. 

In the United States over one million individuals live with autism, making it more prevalent than Down Syndrome, childhood diabetes, and childhood cancer combined. 

Click on the links below to find out more about the disorder itself.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Screenshot of Autism Coalition: Common Characteristics of Autism. Full text below.

Common Characteristics of Autism

Infants with Autism


Avoid eye contact Seem deaf Start developing language, then abruptly stop talking altogether

 Social Relationships

Act as if unaware of the coming and going of others Physically attack and injure others without provocation Inaccessible, as if in a shell 

Exploration of Environment

Remain fixated on a single item or activity Practice strange actions like rocking or hand-flapping Sniff or lick toys Show no sensitivity to burns or bruises and engage in self-mutilation, such as eye gouging 

Normal Infants


Study mother’s face Easily stimulated by sounds Keep adding to vocabulary and expanding grammatical usage 

Social Relationships

Cry when mother leaves the room and are anxious with strangers Get upset when hungry or frustrated Recognize familiar faces and smile 

Exploration of Environment

Move from one engrossing object or activity to another Use body purposefully to reach or acquire objects Explore and play with toys Seek pleasure and avoid pain 

* This chart is furnished by the National Institute of Mental Health. This list is not intended to be used to assess whether a particular child has autism. Diagnosis should only be done by a specialist using highly detailed background information and behavioral observations.

Screenshot of Autism Coalition page: Possible causes of autism. Full text below.

Possible Causes of Autism

It is generally accepted that autism is caused by abnormalities in brain structures or functions. The brain of a fetus develops throughout pregnancy, and, at the time of birth, has become a complex organ with distinct regions and subregions, each with a precise set of functions and responsibilities. 

Brain development does not stop at birth, however. The brain continues to change throughout the first years of the child’s life. Scientists are learning that a number of problems may interfere with the brain’s development. For example, certain types of cells may migrate to places in the brain where they are not meant to be. Some parts of the brain’s intricate communication network may disrupt the overall task of coordinating sensory information, thoughts, feelings and actions. 

Among the possible factors contributing to autism is heredity. Several studies involving twins suggest that autism can be inherited. This is also supported by findings that suggest parents who have one child with autism are at slightly increased risk for having more than one child with autism. While genetics does seem to play a role in autism, it does not seem to be due to one particular gene. While no one gene has been identified as causing autism, researchers are searching for irregular segments of the genetic code that autistic children may have inherited. It also appears that some children are born with a susceptibility to autism, but researchers have not yet identified a single “trigger” that causes autism to develop. 

Another potential factor in the development of autism is the pregnancy period itself. As the brain grows and develops during pregnancy, anything that disrupts normal brain development may have lifelong effects on the child’s sensory, language, social and mental functioning. For this reason, certain conditions, such as the mother’s health during pregnancy or problems involving the delivery, are being researched to see if they interfere with normal brain development. 

Individuals who have certain medical conditions seem to be more at risk for autism. These conditions include Fragile X syndrome, tuberous sclerosis, congenital rubella syndrome, and untreated phenylketonuria (PKU). 

An area of controversy and concern in the autism community is the link between vaccinations and autism. In particular,  vaccines which contained thimerosal (a mercury-based preservative) are believed by some to be associated with the development of autism.*

Another area of controversy is whether the Measles-Mumps-Rubella (MMR) vaccine is linked with autism. In a 2001 investigation by the Institute of Medicine, an expert committee concluded that the “evidence favors rejection of a causal relationship…. between MMR vaccines and autistic spectrum disorders (ASD).” Moreover, a recent Danish study of the health records of over 530,000 children in Europe found that the rate of autism was virtually the same for children who had received the MMR vaccine and those who had not. While many researchers note that there is no definitive proof of a link between the MMR vaccine and autism, most agree that more research is needed. 

*Thimerosal is no longer used in vaccines administered to children six months and
younger in the US.

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

Screenshot of Autism Coalition: How Autism Is Diagnosed page. Full text below.

How Autism Is Diagnosed

Presently, autism cannot be diagnosed by any one medical test. An accurate diagnosis can only be made after a trained professional has observed the communication, behavior, and developmental skills of the individual. Parental (and other caregivers’) input and developmental history can be very important in the diagnosis process. 

Many of the traits associated with autism are shared by other disorders, such as hearing loss, speech problems, mental retardation and neurological problems. Because of this, it is not uncommon to order various medical tests to rule out or identify other possible causes of the symptoms being exhibited. Distinguishing autism from other conditions is crucial, as an accurate diagnosis and early identification will aid in the creation of an appropriate and effective educational program and treatment regimen. 

Once other conditions have been ruled out, it is necessary to visit a professional who specializes in autism. Experts in autism may come from a variety of disciplines, including child psychiatry and psychology, developmental pediatrics or pediatric neurology.

Autism specialists use a variety of methods to identify the disorder. Using a standardized rating scale, the specialist closely observes the child’s language and behavior. A structured interview is also used to elicit information from parents about the child’s behavior and early development. The specialist may also test for certain genetic and neurological problems.

After assessing observations and test results, the specialist makes a diagnosis of autism only if there is clear evidence of poor or limited social relationships, underdeveloped communications skills, repetitive behaviors, interests, and activities. People with autism generally have some impairment within each category, although the severity of each symptom may vary. The diagnostic criteria also require that these symptoms appear by age 3.

Some specialists may be reluctant to give a diagnosis of autism, however, as they fear it may cause the parents to lose hope. Because of this, the specialist may apply a more general term that simply describes the child’s behaviors or sensory deficits. For example, children with milder or fewer symptoms are often diagnosed as having Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD).

Although terms like PDD do not significantly change treatment options, they may keep the child from receiving the full range of specialized educational services available to children diagnosed with autism. They may also give parents false hope that their child’s problems are only temporary.

Research has shown, however, that early diagnosis can lead to dramatically better results for those suffering from autism. With an early diagnosis, the child can immediately begin benefiting from one of the many specialized intervention approaches.

Again, while there is no one test that can diagnose autism, several specialized screening methods have been developed that are now used in diagnosing autism. To see a description of several of these methods, as provided by The Autism Society of America, click here.

Information furnished by The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).


Autistic people have fought the inclusion of ABA in therapy for us since before Autism Speaks, and other non-Autistic-led autism organizations, started lobbying legislation to get it covered by insurances and Medicaid. 

ABA is a myth originally sold to parents that it would keep their Autistic child out of an institution. Today, parents are told that with early intervention therapy their child will either be less Autistic or no longer Autistic by elementary school, and can be mainstreamed in typical education classes. ABA is very expensive to pay out of pocket. Essentially, Autism Speaks has justified the big price tag up front will offset the overall burden on resources for an Autistic’s lifetime. The recommendation for this therapy is 40 hours a week for children and toddlers.

The original study that showed the success rate of ABA to be at 50% has never been replicated. In fact, the study of ABA by United States Department of Defense was denounced as a failure. Not just once, but multiple times. Simply stated: ABA doesn’t workIn study after repeated study: ABA (conversion therapy) doesn’t work. 

What more recent studies do show: Autistics who experienced ABA therapy are at high risk to develop PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions. Historically, the autism organizations promoting ABA as a cure or solution have silenced Autistic advocates’ opposition. ABA is also known as gay conversion therapy.

The ‘cure’ for Autistics not born yet is the prevention of birth. 

The ‘cure’ is a choice to terminate a pregnancy based on ‘autism risk.’ The cure is abortion. This is the same ‘cure’ society has for Down Syndrome. 

This is eugenics 2021. Instead of killing Autistics and disabled children in gas chambers or ‘mercy killings’ like in Aktion T4, it’ll happen at the doctor’s office, quietly, one Autistic baby at a time. Different approaches yes, but still eugenics and the extinction of an entire minority group of people.

Fact: You can’t cure Autistics from being Autistic.

Fact: You can’t recover an Autistic from being Autistic.

Fact: You can groom an Autistic to mask and hide their traits. Somewhat. … however, this comes at the expense of the Autistic child, promotes Autistic Burnout (this should not be confused with typical burnout, Autistic Burnout can kill Autistics), and places the Autistic child at high risk for PTSD and other lifelong trauma-related conditions.

[Note: Autism is NOT a disease, but a neurodevelopmental difference and disability.]

Fact: Vaccines Do Not Cause Autism.

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