What are some characteristics of autism?

    Published: 06-16-2009
    Views: 15,010
    Autism expert Peggy Halliday discusses the characteristics of autism.

    Peggy Halliday

    Peggy Halliday is a board certified associate behavior analyst who has specialized in autism education for the past ten years. She is the Director of Outreach Services at the Virginia Institute of Autism (VIA) in Charlottesville, VA. VIA is a non-profit organization which provides a day school and other resources for families, educators, and other professionals seeking services, training or information about autism and evidence-based interventions. The Institute operates a year-round school for students ages 2-22, a 700-volume library, training workshops, internships for undergraduate and graduate students and teachers, and customized trainings for schools. Peggy supervises a wide range of outreach services, including development and supervision of comprehensive, home-based early intervention programs incorporating naturalistic, incidental, and structured teaching using the principles of applied behavior analysis; training for parents and home instructors; skills assessments, functional behavior assessments and intervention plans, and consultation on Individual Education Plan goals. She has presented trainings and workshops at state and national conferences.

    Host: What are some characteristics of autism?

    Peggy Halliday: Autism is characterized by impairments in three broad areas. The first is in social interactions, the second is in communication which includes language and the third is in behavior. There are other features that are also associated with autism, to a lesser or greater degree in particular individuals and these includes things like sensory issues. There may be oversensitivity or under sensitivity in the sensory input such as taste, touch, texture, light, noise, the way a child reacts to pain. There also may be hyperactivity, a short attention span, changing behavior, self injury or aggression indicating autism. There may be sleeplessness and in some children there are gastrointestinal problems as well.