autist

Cultural Dictionary
autism [(aw-tiz-uhm)]

A serious disorder appearing in childhood and characterized by the child's refusal to relate to other people and severely limited use of language. The cause of autism in children is unknown, but researchers generally feel that it lies in a malfunction of the central nervous system, not in the way parents have treated them or in other aspects of their environment. The term is sometimes applied, more loosely, to adults who are extremely self-absorbed and who see things in terms of their hopes and fantasies rather than realistically.

American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

autism definition


A psychiatric disorder marked by deficits in communication and social interaction.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
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