Autism spectrum disorder is a term used to include and replace all subtypes of autism, including autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder (not otherwise specified).
The fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, published in 2013, defines autism spectrum disorder as follows:
A. persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across contexts, not accounted for by general developmental delays
B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities
C. Symptoms must be present in early childhood (but may not become fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities)
D. Symptoms together limit and impair everyday functioning.
Autism spectrum disorder is a condition that affects how a person communicates with, and relates to, other people. It also affects how they make sense of the world around them.
Individuals with autism spectrum disorder vary enormously from each other but they all share the two ‘core’ features of autism:
– persistent difficulties with social communication and social interaction. For example, they may find it hard to begin or carry on a conversation, they may not understand social rules such as how far to stand from somebody else, or they may find it difficult to make friends.
– Restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interests, or activities. For example, they may develop an overwhelming interest in something, they may follow inflexible routines or rituals, they may make repetitive body movements, or they may be hypersensitive to certain sounds.
There is no cure for autism spectrum disorder but there are some interventions, treatments and therapies which can help solve some of the problems faced by people with autism spectrum disorder and their families.