What is Autism Spectrum Disorder
Autism Spectrum Disorder (previously Autistic Disorder, Asperger’s Disorder) has gained increased recognition over the past several years, and there has been a significant rise in the number of children diagnosed with this disorder.
Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is characterized by symptoms such as poor social communication (e.g. poor eye contact, inability to engage in normal back-and-forth conversation), failure to develop peer relationships, rigid adherence to routines and rituals, and abnormally intense fixations and/or preoccupations. There may be delays in spoken language, inability to initiate or sustain conversation with others, and repetitive use of language that may not make sense to others. Children with ASD may also be very sensitive to certain visual stimuli, sounds, tastes, smells, or textures..
The diagnosis of Asperger’s Disorder was eliminated from the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-V), and is now incorporated in Autism Spectrum Disorder. This form of autism is on the mild end of the spectrum, and typically does not involve language delays or delays in cognitive development or adaptive, self-help skills. Children with mild or “high functioning” ASD may perform well in all areas other than social interaction. However, their inability to read social cues makes it very difficult to sustain meaningful social relationships. For example, individuals with mild forms of ASD are often unable to understand body language, sarcasm, and other “subtle innuendos” of the English language. There is usually an inability to put oneself in another’s position, which further hinders their social functioning. These children often set themselves apart with speech patterns that are unlike their peers, often adult-like, robotic, pedantic, or otherwise described as “odd.” Understandably, these individuals have a very difficult time socially and often endure relentless teasing and criticism from peers.