Autistic Disorder is commonly referred to as "Autism" and is on the more severe end of the spectrum. Approximately 75-80% of the children with autism are diagnosed with mental retardation. Impairments, evident prior to 36 months of age, are described within three categories:

Social Skills:
*Very low motivation to engage in social interactions
*Difficulties relating to others, may appear withdrawn or in a world of their own
*Doesn't smile socially
*Prefers to play alone
*Is not interested in other children
*Is very independent
*Has poor eye contact
*Is in his/her own world
*Tunes us out

Communication Concerns
*Language delays, such as the inability to develop speech, echolalia, and literal interpretation of language
*Does not respond to his/her name
*Appears deaf at times
*Cannot tell me what (s)he wants
*Doesn't follow directions
*Does not gesture

Repetitive Behaviors--Obsessions, insistence on routine and sameness, and self-stimulatory behaviors are evident. These behaviors may help a child calm down:
*Hand flapping
*Toe walking
*Lining up toys or objects
*Spinning in circles
*Vocal sounds - "eeeee" or "mmmm"
*Rocking back and forth