Autism refers to a range of neurodevelopment disorders that affect communication and social interaction skills. No two people with autism are alike.
Autism is present at birth and is usually diagnosed at an early age. Infants with autism disorders might not smile or laugh. They might prefer not to be cuddled. As they grow, they might avoid eye contact. They may not develop normal verbal and nonverbal communication skills. They might have sensitivities to textures, sounds, or smells. They might become easily overstimulated or develop strong or obsessive interests. Some children will show developmental delays; others might develop normally or even excel in some areas, but engage in repetitive or limited behaviors. Although these children might seem to meet developmental milestones, they may only be able to communicate about their love of Big Bird.
Children with autism grow up to be adults with autism. Autistic adults also have a wide range of abilities and disabilities. Some are severely impaired and unable to speak or independently care for themselves. Others are able to hold full-time jobs and raise families. Most autistic adults fit somewhere in between.
To be diagnosed with autism, a person must exhibit at least six qualifying symptoms. These include:
- Two symptoms linked to impaired social interaction
- One communication impairment symptom
- One restricted or repetitive behavior impairment symptom
To qualify for Social Security disability benefits based on autism, a person must be diagnosed with autism or a related impairment and show that his symptoms cause serious limitations in social functioning, activities of daily living, or the ability to sustain concentration, persistence, or pace and that these limitations directly affect his ability to hold a job for pay.
This can be difficult. Many people with high functioning autism seem typical on the surface. It takes time to notice that they avoid eye contact, flap when agitated, wear gloves to protect themselves from doorknobs, or only converse about their favorite video game. It can be hard to get the medical documentation needed to show how autism restricts a person’s ability to work. This can be frustrating. It can be even more frustrating if the person finds dealing with people difficult and uncomfortable.
If you have autism and are applying for SSI or SSDI, we can help. Our New England disability attorneys can help you deal with paperwork, make appointments, and get the documentation you need to support your claim. To learn more, request a free copy of Boston disability attorney John Keefe's free book titled Unlocking the Mystery – The Essential Guide for Navigating the Social Security Disability Claims Process or contact Keefe Disability Law at 888-904-6847.