Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is part of a group of conditions known as generalized developmental disorders (PDD).
Autism spectrumdisorder (ASD) is a pervasive developmental disorder that affects many areas of functioning. People with ASD experience deficits in social communication and social interaction, and restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities. Additionally, many individuals with autism have sensory difficulties, such as hypersensitivity to light, sound, color, smell, taste, or touch.
In order to provide an inclusive and supportive environment for people with autism, it is important to understand the main characteristics and challenges associated with ASD. These include deficits in communication and social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive patterns of behavior. It is also important to note that interventions for the management of the main characteristics of autism should not be used in children and young people. The DSM-5 criteria for ASD encompass the social and behavioral deficits typically associated with these populations.
Data from a recent US survey (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 201) found that 44% of children with ASD had an IQ score in the average range. People who have marked deficits in social communication but do not meet the criteria for autism spectrum disorder should be evaluated for social communication disorder (pragmatic). Both children and adults with autism benefit from behavioral interventions or therapies that can teach new skills to address major deficits of autism and reduce major symptoms. Because intelligence is mainly communicated through the appropriate use of language, children with autism may seem unintelligent due to their social and communication deficits.
To meet the criteria for diagnosing ASD under DSM-5, a child must have persistent deficits in each of the three areas of communication and social interaction. The main challenges of ASD take different forms as an individual responds to intervention and progresses through developmental stages from pre-linguistics to emerging and advanced linguistic stages. The onset of symptoms occurs in the period of early development (but deficits may not fully manifest themselves until demands for social communication exceed limited capacities). Deficits in the main diagnostic domains should also be distinguished from deficits that can be attributed to factors such as low IQ, sensory impairments, or other psychiatric or developmental disorders.
Deficits result in functional limitations in effective communication, social participation, social relations, academic performance, or occupational performance, individually or in combination. Individual differences in environmental sensitivity and different learning styles can subsequently result in very different developmental trajectories and may explain the very heterogeneous profiles of skills and deficits that characterize autism.
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