Characteristics of Autism
Autism is a developmental disability with onset before the age of 36 months. It involves deficits in social relatedness, communications and behaviors/interests. Individuals with Autism may possess characteristics in various combinations and in varying degrees of severity. Two individuals who both carry a diagnosis may look very different. Autism is now thought to occur in 1 in 88 individuals, with males outnumbering females 4:1, however these statistics are regularly revised and the subject of much ongoing research. Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) is an “umbrella category” in the DSM-IV. The DSM-IV is the Diagnosis and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric and Mental Disorders. The following are diagnoses under Pervasive Developmental Disorders: Autism, Asperger’s Disorder, Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Rett’s Syndrome.
The following are characteristics of Autism according to the DSM-IV:
- Poor regulation of social interaction through eye contact, facial expressions, gesture, posture, intonation.
- Failure to develop age-appropriate peer relations.
- Little showing, bringing or pointing out objects of interest.
- Limited social-emotional reciprocity
- Delay or absence of spoken language.
- Repetitive or idiosyncratic language.
- Pronoun reversal
- Neologisms-new words, expressions, or usages; creation or use of new words
- Metaphorical language
- Poor conversational abilities
- Poor reciprocity and turn taking
- Excessive talking
- Difficulty taking listener’s perspective
- Concrete and literal
- Overly formal
- Impairments in pretend play
Repetitive Behavior Symptoms
- Encompassing preoccupations
- Unusual topics
- Focus on details
- Difficulty differentiating relevant from irrelevant information
- Insistence on sameness, ritualistic behavior
- Stereotyped body movements
- Preoccupation with parts or sesory qualities of objects
- Mental retardation: approximately 75%
- Uneven skills (sevants)
- Abnormalities in eating, drinking, sleeping
- Mood disturbances
- Severe problem behaviors
- Self injury