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Social Characteristics

Children with disorders along the autistic spectrum have difficulty engaging in reciprocal social interactions. According to Dumas, these interactions are defined as "social exchanges in which two or more partners share or contribute." (2003) In fact, for a child to be diagnosed Autistic, the current DSM-IV-TR Diagnostic Criteria require that they meet at least two of the following qualitative impairments in social interaction:

    1. marked impairment in the use of multiple nonverbal behaviors such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures regulate social interaction
    2. failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level
    3. a lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g., by a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out objects of interest)
    4. lack of social or emotional reciprocity

      At different ages and different stages of development, a lack of social interactions will be manifested in different ways. Below are some specific social characteristics typical of children with autism.

      Birth - 1 Year

      1 - 3 Years

      3 Years and Older

      • demands little attention
      • do not "track" with the eyes
      • does not play with toys
      • does not make eye contact
      • does not engage in pretend play
      • does not form peer relationships
      • does not appear to understand the "rules" of social interaction
      • does not understand non-verbal social interaction (appropriate to age level)