What Is Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder?

At the Texas Young Autism Project, we work with individuals who have autism and other developmental and behavioral challenges, to give them a head start toward living their best lives. So what is autism, exactly, and how can you tell if you or your child has it?


Autism, now called autism spectrum disorder or ASD, is a complex developmental disorder that affects how people interact with the world around them. It isn’t a mental illness or a disease. Around 1 in 54 children in the U.S. live with autism spectrum disorder. Autism is a lifelong condition, but there are interventions and supports that can help you or your child to flourish. 


Autism spectrum disorder is characterized by differences and difficulties in communication, speech, learning, behaviors, and social relationships. Autism is a spectrum, which means every single person with autism is unique. 

Early diagnosis can help an individual receive specialized care and support meant for them to help their development. The earlier an individual begins to receive therapy or interventions, the better quality of life they can have in the future.

Common Symptoms of Autism


Speech and

Repetitive or
restricted behavior patterns

Hypersensitivity to light,
sounds, tastes, and smells

Fear and

Problems with mood
(like depression)


How the Texas Young Autism Project Can Help

How the Texas Young Autism Project Can Help

If you’re the parent of a child with autism, you’re not alone, and your child’s future isn’t over! So many children with autism grow up to be successful, fulfilled, and happy adults.

Studies have shown that early intervention, or support when the child is under the age of 3, can greatly increase the odds of your child developing to their complete potential and flourishing in every stage of life. If you suspect that your child has autism spectrum disorder (or if they have already been diagnosed with it), give us a call. Our individualized services can help both you and your child learn how to live successfully with autism and learn the skills they need to succeed.

If you are an adolescent or adult struggling with ASD, TYAP offers evaluations, counseling, and social groups to support you through your journey.  Contact us today to learn more.

Frequently Asked Questions About Autism

Most signs of autism appear in children before the age of 3. Again, it’s important to remember that autism is a spectrum, so not all children with autism will present in the same way. However, some early signs of autism in young children are:


  • Not showing any facial expressions (by 9 months)
  • Not pointing to objects around them to show interest (by 14 months)
  • Not responding to their own name (by 12 months)
  • Not “playing pretend” (by 18 months)
  • Avoiding eye contact with others
  • Seeming to prefer being alone
  • Repetitive movements, like flapping their hands, rocking back and forth, or spinning
  • Preferring not to be held or cuddled
  • Having intense reactions to different sounds, smells, or tastes
  • Struggling with even minor changes
  • Repeating or echoing words they hear


If you suspect your child has autism (or any other developmental disorder), you’re legally entitled to an evaluation. A psychologist can help you get an autism diagnosis for your child by conducting tests and interviews with both you and your child. 

We still don’t know for sure what exactly causes autism. The only definite factor that scientists have identified is a genetic component. Children are more likely to have autism if they have a sibling with autism. There are also two medications (valproic acid and thalidomide) that, when taken during pregnancy, have been linked to autism in the child. Children who are born to older parents have a higher likelihood of being autistic, but we still don’t know exactly why this is.


What research has proven is that autism is not caused by vaccines or “helicopter” parenting styles.

Most people have heard about autism, but it’s still one of the most misunderstood conditions out there. To clear up some of this confusion, we want to bust some common myths about autism. The more you understand about what autism is, the more you’ll be able to support your child.


  • Myth #1: Autism is a disease
  • Myth #2: Boys are more likely to have autism than girls.
  • Myth #3: People with autism will never have a full life.
  • Myth #4: You did something to cause your child’s autism.
  • Myth #5: My child has autism, so they can’t love me.

Begin Today!

If you would have a question or would like additional information, please fill in the form below and someone from our office will be in contact with you.

young asian parents and son having fun outdoors in park