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About Autism

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability  that can cause significant social, communication and behavioral challenges. There is often nothing about how people with ASD look that sets them apart from other people, but people with ASD may communicate, interact, behave, and learn in ways that are different from most other people. The learning, thinking, and problem-solving abilities of people with ASD can range from gifted to severely challenged. Some people with ASD need a lot of help in their daily lives; others need less.

A diagnosis of ASD now includes several conditions that used to be diagnosed separately: autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. These conditions are now all called autism spectrum disorder.

Signs and Symptoms
People with ASD often have problems with social, emotional, and communication skills. They might repeat certain behaviors and might not want change in their daily activities. Many people with ASD also have different ways of learning, paying attention, or reacting to things. Signs of ASD begin during early childhood and typically last throughout a person’s life.

Children or adults with ASD might:

  • not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)

  • not look at objects when another person points at them

  • have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all

  • avoid eye contact and want to be alone

  • have trouble understanding other people’s feelings or talking about their own feelings

  • prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to

  • appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds

  • be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them

  • repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language

  • have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions

  • not play “pretend” games (for example, not pretend to “feed” a doll)

  • repeat actions over and over again

  • have trouble adapting when a routine changes

  • have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound

  • lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)

Diagnosing ASD can be difficult since there is no medical test, like a blood test, to diagnose the disorders. Doctors look at the child’s behavior and development to make a diagnosis.

ASD can sometimes be detected at 18 months or younger. By age 2, a diagnosis by an experienced professional can be considered very reliable.1 However, many children do not receive a final diagnosis until much older. This delay means that children with ASD might not get the early help they need.

For information about obtaining a Diagnosis in Utah visit the Autism Council of Utah website here.

There is currently no cure for ASD. However, research shows that early intervention treatment services can improve a child’s development.2, 3 Early intervention services help children from birth to 3 years old (36 months) learn important skills. Services can include therapy to help the child talk, walk, and interact with others. Therefore, it is important to talk to your child’s doctor as soon as possible if you think your child has ASD or other developmental problem.

Even if your child has not been diagnosed with an ASD, he or she may be eligible for early intervention treatment services. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)external icon says that children under the age of 3 years (36 months) who are at risk of having developmental delays may be eligible for services. These services are provided through an early intervention system in your state. Through this system, you can ask for an evaluation.

In addition, treatment for particular symptoms, such as speech therapy for language delays, often does not need to wait for a formal ASD diagnosis.

For a list of Utah Providers visit the Autism Council of Utah website here.


Journey Through Autism Experience

In 2019-2020 the Journey Through Autism traveling experience was built by Spectrum Academy High School Students, funded by a grant through the Autism Council of Utah. The goal? To give people a glimpse into what everyday activities may feel like to someone with autism. How? We gathered information, simulations and exercises from people and organizations all over the world to help us. Why? People gain a greater understanding and offer greater acceptance when they have experienced, even for a moment, what it's like to walk in someone else's shoes. The Journey Through Autism Experience will give you insight into some of the social, behavioral and communication challenges faced by some individuals with autism.

*No two people are exactly the same, the information shared is not a representation of what every person with autism experiences.

More about Autism:

Sensory Overload Simulations

Sensory overload is the overstimulation of one or more of the body’s five senses, which are touch, sight, hearing, smell, and taste.

Exercises to Experience...

Learning Disabilities;
Dysgraphia, Dyslexia, Dyscalculia

Dyslexia – difficulty with reading.
Dyscalculia – difficulty with math.
Dysgraphia – difficulty with writing.

In less than 3 minutes, write 3 sentences about what you did yesterday.

You cannot use the following words" a, and, be, for, have, in, of, that, the, to


while spelling words substitute "t' for 'b' and 'a' for 'o'.

Exercise 1

Auditory Processing Disorder

Auditory processing disorder (APD) is a term that refers to problems in how the brain understands speech. 

Exercise 3

Audio Simulation of APDArtist Name
00:00 / 01:28


Reading requires the ability to map the phonemes we hear to letters on a page, and vice versa.

But what happens when this basic skill, called decoding, doesn't come automatically?

Imagine struggling to sound out every word because you can't distinguish among phonemes.

Use this translation key to read the passage below, 

When you see "q"      Pronounce as "d" or "t"

When you see "z"      Pronounce as "m"

When you see "p"      Pronounce as "b"

When you see "b"      Pronounce as "p"

When you see  "ys"    Pronounce as "er"

When you see "a, as in bat"  Pronounce as "e, as in pet"

When you see "e, as in pet"  Pronounce as "a, as in bat"


We pegin our qrib eq a faziliar blace, a poqy like yours enq zine. Iq conqains a hunqraq qrillion calls qheq work qogaqhys py qasign. Enq wiqhin each one of qhese zany calls, each one qheq hes QNA, Qhe QNA coqe is axecqly qhe saze, a zess-broquceq rasuze. So qhe coqe in each call is iqanqical, a razarkaple puq veliq claiz. Qhis zeans qheq qhe calls are nearly alike, puq noq axecqly qhe saze. Qake, for insqence, qhe calls of qhe inqasqines; qheq qhey're viqal is cysqainly blain. Now qhink apouq qhe way you woulq qhink if qhose calls wyse qhe calls in your prain.  Here is the translation.

Exercise 2

Some children with ASD may not be able to communicate using speech or language, and some may have very limited speaking skills. Others may have rich vocabularies and be able to talk about specific subjects in great detail. Many have problems with the meaning and rhythm of words and sentences. They also may be unable to understand body language and the meanings of different vocal tones. Taken together, these difficulties affect the ability of children with ASD to interact with others, especially people their own age.

Player 1 put on headphones, turn on music.

Player 2 whisper a sentence like "It's cold outside."

Player 1 try to figure out what Player 2 said.

Exercise 4

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