HEALTHATHON: Question 4: An Average Kid with Autism

Describe to me an average kid with autism


Dr. Kari Miller:

Each individual is unique and there is no way to present a “typical” picture.  However, there are three core areas that are affected by autism:  social skills, language and communication, and repetitive and/or restricted behaviors.  Each child with autism will show some degree of challenge in these areas, but need not show a marked difficulty in all areas.  Kids may also have sensory and/or motor problems, to varying degrees.


There are other conditions that may coexist with autism, such as mental retardation, sensory processing disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, anxiety, ADHD/ADD, learning disorders, epilepsy, bipolar disorder, Tourette syndrome, and gastrointestinal problems.


Amy Hummel:

You really can’t because autism is a spectrum disorder. They say you meet one child with autism and you have met one child with autism.


Abby Twyman:

There is no “average kid with autism”. Every individual on the spectrum is just that: an individual. There is a huge variety on the presentation of symptoms which makes this an impossible question to answer.

In the area of communication, some individuals with autism can’t speak, some can speak a few words, and some are highly verbal. Even if an individual can’t speak, that doesn’t mean they’re incapable of communicating. Some individuals with autism who can’t speak are able to use single pictures to communicate, some use pictures in a sequence to create sentences and some can type out what they want to say. On the other side of the communication spectrum, some individuals who are highly verbal are unable to use their language communicatively and some are able to use their language to communicate their wants and needs.

In the area of socialization, some individuals with autism are aloof and seemingly uninterested in interacting social and some are interested in interacting but lack the skills to do so appropriately or effectively. Some individuals understand how to play with a variety of toys independently and with others, and some find this extremely difficult.

In the area of restrictive and repetitive behaviors, some individuals engage in high levels of self-stimulatory behavior and some do not. Some individuals have very intense and restricted interests in specific objects, toys, characters, or subjects. Some individuals engage in extremely aggressive behaviors towards themselves or others. Some are highly dependent on structure and routine.

The point in all of this is that there are many different presentations of autism and no individual with autism is the same as any other and therefore there is no “average” child with autism. They’re all unique, extraordinary and amazing.



Question 1: 3 Myths of Autism

Question 2: Vaccines and Autism

Question 3: Signs of Autism

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