Autism The Essential Guide to Understanding Autism.  What Is Autism You may have seen an autistic child or adult and never knew that the person had a diagnosis.  Your ignorance about the disorder is not uncommon because most people who are not experienced with the disorder look at autistic people as those who are mentally retarded or have some learning disability.  This is not true.  Autism is a very complicated disorder that affects children typically from the age of three to conception. The disorder is neurological in nature and primarily affects the areas of the brain where communication and social interaction is developed.  To the unsuspecting person, the autistic child or adult would be considered mentally unstable or retarded.    The unique thing about autism and the reason it is sometimes hard to detect is that the disorder affects different sufferers in different levels of complexity.  A mildly affected child may be able to communicate their wants and needs, but there communication is often stifled and they do not understand the subtleties of the English language.  Sometimes humor, irony, and other nuances of the language will present a difficult or impassible barrier to the child’s communication process.  Another autistic sufferer may have severe autism where the child or the adult cannot communicate at all.  The sad thing is that the autistic person can think about the what they want to say and how to communicate it, but the words do not come out and their silence on appears on the outside

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