Is Autism A Behavioral Disorder?
No, autism is not a behavioral disorder.
Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder. Those who are uncomfortable with the language of 'disorder' can swap that term for 'disability' or 'condition.'
In plain language, "neuro" pertains to the nervous system, "developmental" refers to the symptoms or traits as appearing or first being noticed in early childhood, and "disorder" is a medical term that implies a clinically significant compromise in an individual's ability to function.
The 'neuro' part of autism influences emotional regulation, sensorimotor differences, enthusiasm for interests, how information is processed when learning, feelings of safety & fear, social understanding and more. The 'neuro' part of autism influences behavior: repetitive movements, social interactions, and responses to perceived threat.
It's important when learning to be a respectful parent of an autistic child that we understand what autism is and what it is not and choose our parenting and therapeutic approaches accordingly. Behavioral disorders have different origins and require different responses.
So remember, autism is not a behavioral disorder. Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder.
Learn more in my Autism Parent Training live course taught by yours truly, a former child therapist specializing in autism, unschool, and respectful parenting.