Autism Spectrum Disorders

Autism Spectrum Disorders

Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Autism, and Asperger syndrome are the three diagnoses that comprise Autism Spectrum Disorders.

“Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Autism).

Cause: The cause of Autism is unknown. Research has shown that gentics may contribute to the occurance of Autism. However, the exact cause of Autism is unknown.

Diagnosis: Children are typically diagnosed between the ages of 2 and 3. Diagnosis is made based on the definition of Autism found in the DSM-IV-TR. The criteria in the DSV-IV-TR is based on behavior. In order to meet the criteria for diagnosis, an individual must exhibit six symptoms, two of which must be related to social interaction, one related to communication, and one related to restricted or repetitive behavior.

Characteristics:

Social Development:

  • Limited interaction with others
  • Lack of developmentally appropriate peer relationships
  • Lack of spontaneously sharing of enjoyment, interests, or achievements
  • Lack of social or emotional reciprocity
  • Ineffective eye contact, facial expressions, body postures, and gestures
  • Does not show objects of interests to others, or seek to involve others in play

Communication:

  • Delayed or lack in development of vocal language
  • Impairment  in imitation or maintenance of conversation
  • Stereotyped and repetitive language or idiosyncratic language
  • No or few words or gestures
  • No contextual conversation
  • Repeated phrases, echolalia, or preoccupation with topics

Stereotyped Responses:

  • Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects (i.e. playing with wheels, or same toys over and over without variation)
  • Stereotyped repetitive body movements (body rocking, hand flapping, etc)
  • Tantrums or self-injuries when a routine is not followed precisely
  • Hand-flapping, finger-twisting, complex body movements
  • Gazing at moving lights, listening to sounds, stimulus over selectivity
  • Preservative staring at play items or discussions
  • Looking at objects from an atypical angle
For more information on Autism Spectrum Disorder, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web page: