What is Autism?

While autism has common traits, it’s a spectrum. There’s a lot of variation in how autism looks from person to person. Some people with an autism diagnosis communicate by speaking. Others use nonverbal communication. There’s also a wide range in intellectual and self-care abilities.  Doctors define autism in a specific way. It’s a neuro-developmental disorder that affects how kids process certain types of information. People with autism tend to have common challenges.

Trouble with social skills. This is a hallmark of autism. Many people have trouble recognizing and responding to other people’s feelings. They struggle to “read” non-verbal cues like body language and facial expressions. Some kids (and adults) can be very literal and don’t always understand puns, riddles, or figures of speech. They might also have trouble with "unwritten" social rules —like saying “hi” back to others when they say “hi.”

Language and communication challenges. It’s common for people with autism to have trouble taking in and responding to sensory information. They may seek out, or have a heightened sensitivity to light, sound, touch, taste, or  how loud they speak, and with what tone. It’s a myth that people with autism don’t feel empathy or emotions. In fact, they can feel deep empathy and have strong feelings—but they may have a hard time showing it.

Executive functioning. This set of mental skills helps us plan, set goals, and get things done. It’s a frequent trouble spot with autism. One common challenge is with flexible thinking, or the ability to think in new ways about a problem.

Motor planning problems. Some people with autism struggle with motor skills. So they may seem clumsy and uncoordinated. Kids may have trouble with things like handwriting, riding a bike, catching a ball, or running.

Passionate, narrow interests. This “special interest” is usually around a certain topic or object. It can be anything from knowing all the details of a certain period in history to being especially interested in cars. Often kids are captivated by a type of toy, like LEGO train sets.

Repetitive behaviors and movements. Physical behaviors like arm flapping or rocking (sometimes called stimming) are common. Some might also repeat certain sounds or phrases.

A need for routine and consistency. Predictable routines and structure help people feel safe and comfortable. A change in the way things usually go, like schedule changes during a school vacation, can cause anxiety and discomfort. People with autism may persevate or “get stuck” on a topic or an idea when something unexpected happens.

Rather than calling autism a disorder, some in the autism community call it neurological variation. They embrace neurodiversity. This concept says conditions like autism aren’t “abnormal.” They’re simply part of human difference and deserve the same love and respect as anyone else!

How Can You Help?

 Our Fishing For Autism events run on the support of the community and without them none of this would be possible. Through donations, auctions and fundraisers we have been able to turn an idea into something bigger than we could have imagined. We look to continue to raise awareness through our events with plans to expand into new communities. With your support the possibilities are endless  

The Positives

Creative & Tenacious


• Distinctive imagination

• Expression of ideas

• Determination

• Challenge opinions

Observational Skills


 • Listen, look, learn approach 

• Fact finding 

 • Visual learning and recall 

• Detail-focused 

• Spotting patterns

Integrity & Love


•  Less likely to judge others 

• May question norms 

•  Honesty, loyalty

 • Commitment 

•  Laughter and more hugs