Autism - The Basics
Autism is a developmental disorder in which the individual's ability to communicate, interact socially and behave appropriately are impaired. As of May of 2013, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). Previously, there were subgroups, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder and Asperger syndrome. ASD can be co-occurring with low cognitive ability, difficulties in motor coordination, attention and physical health issues. Some individuals with ASD excel in visual skills, music, math and art.
How Common is Autism?
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that around 1 in 88 American children are diagnosed with autism - a huge increase in prevalence in the last 40 years. According to www.autismspeaks.org, autism is four to five times more common in boys than girls. Approximately 1 out of 54 boys and 1 in 252 girls are diagnosed in the United states with autism. There is no substantial reason for the gigantic leap in prevalence, however, improved diagnosis and environmental factors are what some believe play a role.
What are some signs of autism?
Impairments in Social Interaction can include:
- lack of facial expressions, eye-gaze and gestures (many children with autism do not point).
- difficulty making and maintaining friendships or lack of interest in doing so.
- difficultly with the reciprocal (back-and-forth) nature of social interactions.
- problems using and interpreting nonverbal communication (gestures, facial expressions).
- lack "theory of mind" - the ability to recognize and understand how others are feeling or reacting.
Impairments in Communication can Include:
- a delay or lack of development of oral language.
- using peculiar or nonfunctional language - often scripting (repeating exactly) what others say.
- a lack variety in language.
- difficulty with the rules of social communication such as starting or maintaining a conversation.
Impairments in behavior can Include:
- persevering (being intensely preoccupied) on an interest.
- difficulty with a change in routine.
- peculiar and repetitive motor movements such as finger flapping.