(taken from Wikipedia)
is classified by the World Health Organization
(WHO) and American Psychological Association
as a developmental disability that results from a disorder of the human central nervous system
. It is diagnosed using specific criteria for impairments to social interaction, communication, interests, imagination and activities. The causes, symptoms, etiology, treatment, and other issues are controversial.
Autism manifests itself "before the age of three years" according to the WHO's International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10
) Children with autism are marked by delays in their "social interaction, language as used in social communication, or symbolic or imaginative play" (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
Autism, and the other four pervasive developmental disorders
(PDD), are all considered to be neurodevelopmental disorders
. They are diagnosed on the basis of a triad, or group of three behavioral impairments or dysfunctions: 1. impaired social interaction, 2. impaired communication and 3. restricted and repetitive interests and activities. These three basic characteristics reflect Dr. Leo Kanner
's first reports of autism emphasizing "autistic aloneness" and "insistence on sameness."
From a physiological standpoint, autism is often less than obvious in that outward appearance may not indicate a disorder. Diagnosis typically comes from a complete patient history and physical and neurological
The incidence of diagnosed autism has increased since the 1990s. Reasons offered for this phenomenon include better diagnosis, wider public awareness of the condition, regional variations in diagnostic criteria, or simply an increase in the occurrence of ASD (autism spectrum disorders
). The United States Centers for Disease Control
(CDC) estimate the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders to be about one in every 150 children. In 2005, the National Institute of Mental Health
(NIMH) stated the "best conservative estimate" as 1 in 1000. In 2006, NIMH estimated that the incidence was 2-6 in every 1000.
There are numerous theories as to the specific causes of autism
, but they have yet to be fully supported by evidence (see section on "Causes" below). Proposed factors include genetic influence, anatomical variations (e.g. head circumference), abnormal blood vessel function and oxidative stress
. Their significance as well as implications for treatment remain speculative.
Conversely, some autistic children and adults are opposed to attempts to cure autism. These people see autism as part of who they are, and in some cases they perceive treatments and attempts of a cure to be unethical.
On the surface, individuals who have autism are physically indistinguishable from those without. Some studies show that autistic children tend to have larger head circumferences but the significance in the disorder is unclear. Sometimes autism co-occurs with other disorders, and in those cases outward differences may be apparent.
Individuals diagnosed with autism can vary greatly in skills and behaviors, and their response to sensory input shows marked differences in a number of ways from that of other people. Certain stimulations
, such as sounds, lights, and touch, will often affect someone with autism differently than someone without, and the degree to which the sensory system is affected can vary greatly from one individual to another.
Autistic children may display unusual behaviors or fail to display expected behaviors. Normal behaviors may develop at the appropriate age and then disappear or, conversely, are delayed and develop quite some time after normal occurrence.In assessing developmental delays, different physicians may not always arrive at the same conclusions. Much of this difference between diagnosis is due to the disputed criteria for autism.
Deciding how a child should behave is also difficult because diagnostic tests have to be objective, which is not a simple thing to accomplish.Because of this practitioners and researchers in pediatrics
, child psychology
, behavior analysis
, and child development
are always looking for early indicators of autism.
The diagnosis of autism must meet specific criterion but there are also many characteristics that are idiosyncratic. Thus, Autism is not a "one size fits all" label. In other words the spectrum disorder
encompasses a very wide range of behaviors and symptoms.
Some behaviors cited by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (listed below) may simply mean a normal delay in one or more areas of development, while others are more typical of ASDs—Autistic Spectrum Disorders.
The list below is not all-inclusive, and generally applies to children and not adults. Furthermore, while some of these behaviors might be seen in a person with autism, others may be absent.
Noted Behaviors in Children
Autism - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
- stares into open areas, doesn't focus on anything specific.
- does not respond to his/her name.
- cannot explain what he/she wants.
- language skills are slow to develop or speech is delayed.
- doesn't follow directions.
- will fuss if didn't get what wanted.
- at times, the child seems to be deaf.
- doesn't point or wave "bye-bye."
- doesn't understand the concept of pointing; will look at the hand pointing rather than the object being pointed at.
- used to say a few words or babble, but now he/she doesn't.
- throws intense or violent tantrums.
- has odd movement patterns.
- likes to spin around in a circle.
- likes being in a place well known.
- hands on ears often.
- is overly active, uncooperative, or resistant.
- doesn't know how to play with toys.
- doesn't smile when smiled at.
- has poor eye contact.
- gets "stuck" doing the same things over and over and can't move on to other things.
- seems to prefer to play alone.
- gets things for him/herself only.
- is very independent for his/her age.
- does things "early" compared to other children.
- seems to be in his/her "own world."
- seems to tune people out.
- is not interested in other children.
- dislikes playing pretend.
- walks on his/her toes.
- shows unusual attachments to toys, objects, or schedules (i.e., always holding a string or having to put socks on before pants).
- spends a lot of time stacking objects, lining things up or putting things in a certain order.
- unconcerned about - or completely oblivious to - dangers around him/her (i.e., standing in the middle of the street without worrying about getting hit by a car).
- React cowardly to loud noises [ex. siren]