Definitions Of Autism

What is autism?

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a developmental disability caused by differences in the brain. It covers a broad spectrum of disorders marked by difficulties with speech, nonverbal communication, repetitive activities, and social skills. Some people with ASD have a known difference, such as a genetic condition. Other causes of Autism are not yet known. ASD is thought to have a number of underlying reasons that interact to alter how people typically develop. Our understanding of Autism continues to grow and has changed over time.

What are the criteria for diagnosing someone with autism?

The criteria for diagnosing autism, also known as autism spectrum disorder (ASD), are outlined in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). To be diagnosed with ASD, an individual must meet the following criteria:

  1. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following:
    • Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, such as difficulties initiating or maintaining social interactions or a lack of social or emotional responsiveness to others.
    • Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, such as eye contact, facial expression, and body language.
    • Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships.
  2. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
    • Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech.
    • Excessive adherence to routines, ritualized patterns of verbal or nonverbal behavior, or excessive resistance to change.
    • Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus.
  3. Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment.
The above is a brief synopsis of the definition from the DSM-5 for Autism. The presentation of Autism can vary greatly from person to person. There are also significant differences between genders in the presentation of Autism.

What does the “autistic spectrum” mean?

The term “spectrum” is used to reflect the fact that the symptoms of ASD can range from mild to severe, and can manifest in a variety of ways. Some individuals with ASD may have relatively mild symptoms and may be able to function independently in many areas of their lives, while others may have more severe symptoms and may need significant support in order to participate in daily activities.

The use of the term “spectrum” in this context reflects the fact that ASD is a complex and varied disorder, and that individuals with ASD can have a wide range of symptoms and levels of functioning. It is important to recognize that individuals with ASD are unique and that each person with ASD will have their own unique set of strengths, challenges, and needs.

Autism is known as a spectrum of disorders. This is because there is a wide variation in the type and severity of symptoms that people experience, so every individual may experience autism differently. For instance, one autistic person may indulge in self-destructive behaviors and repetitive behaviors when feeling nervous. The same diagnosis of autism will apply to another autistic individual who does not indulge in destructive and repetitive behaviors but shuts down when feeling anxious. To get a definitive diagnosis of Autism start by reaching out mental health provider to have your child evaluated for Autism.

How do the characteristics of autism fluctuate depending on where a person falls on the autistic spectrum?

The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of disability in functioning that can occur in people with ASD. While some children and adults with ASD are entirely capable of carrying out all everyday activities, others need significant assistance to do even the most basic tasks. Depending on the person, social interaction and communication challenges might differ significantly. Some autistic people are nonverbal (they don’t use language to express their needs), and others may be verbal but struggle with some social communication skills. People with ASD may speak in a variety of ways, from barely speaking at all to speaking fluently but in socially inappropriate ways. Learning and thinking can also range from extremely gifted to needing severe help.

How is the day-to-day task complexity different for autistic people compared to neurotypical people?

People with Autism have difficulty with social communication and interaction. Many individuals with ASD may have difficulty understanding and interpreting social cues, such as facial expressions, body language, and tone of voice. They may also have difficulty initiating or maintaining social interactions, which can make tasks that involve social interaction more complex. Patients with Autism also struggle with sensory sensitivities. These sensory sensitivities can make tasks difficult. For example, they may have difficulty with tasks that involve loud noises, bright lights, or strong smells. Patients with Autism can struggle with change and flexibility. Many individuals with ASD may have difficulty with change and may prefer routines and predictability. This can make tasks that involve change or flexibility more challenging.

What does it feel like to have Autism?

Autism can make autistic people feel stressed and anxious when they find themselves in a situation beyond their control. People with autism also claim that stress can feel so overwhelming that they cannot contain it. As a result, they look for outlets to relieve their stress. Patients with Autisms stress of being overwhelmed by the situation manifests both with mental and physical symptoms(e.g biting, rocking, hitting, etc).