What’s Autism?

Autism impacts the typical development of the brain in the areas of social interaction and communication skills. Children and adults with autism typically have difficulties in verbal and non-verbal communication, social interactions, and leisure or play activities. They find it hard to communicate with others and relate to the outside world. In some cases, aggressive and/or self-injurious behavior may be present. Persons with autism may exhibit repeated body movements (hand flapping, rocking), unusual responses to people or attachments to objects and resistance to changes in routines. Individuals may also experience sensitivities in sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste.

ASD is now a Single Category

With the publication of the DSM-V Diagnostic Manual in May of 2013 previous sub types of Autism such as PDD-NOS, Autistic Disorder and Asperger’s, were merged into one umbrella diagnosis referred to as ASD.

Autism by numbers

The rate of occurrence of ASD is increasing steadily, with the rate progressing from 1 in 2500 children 40 years ago to 1 in 200 in the last decade to the current estimate of 1 in 80 children.

A University of California Davis study published in the Journal of autism and Development Disorder found that the total costs for caring for people with autism in the US in 2015 were $268 billion and this numbers would touch $461 billion in 2025. Incredibly the current costs of ASD are more than doubled the combined costs of stroke and hypertension.

Autism diagnosis

There are no medical tests for diagnosing Autism. An accurate diagnosis must be based on observation of the individual’s communication, behavior, and developmental levels. Because many of the behaviors associated with autism are shared by other disorders, various medical tests may be ordered to rule out or identify other possible causes of the symptoms.

Children within the ASD often appear relatively normal in their development until the age of 24-30 months, when parents may notice delays in language, play or social interaction.

Any of the following delays, by themselves, would not result in a diagnosis of an ASD. Autism is a combination of several developmental challenges.

The following areas are among those that may be affected by autism:

Communication: language develops slowly or not at all; uses words without attaching the usual meaning to them; communicates with gestures instead of words; short attention span;
Social Interaction: spends time alone rather than with others; shows little interest in making friends; less responsive to social cues such as eye contact or smiles;
Sensory Impairment: may have sensitivities in the areas of sight, hearing, touch, smell, and taste to a greater or lesser degree;
Play: lack of spontaneous or imaginative play; may not imitate others’ actions; may not initiate pretend games;
may be overactive or very passive; throws tantrums for no apparent reason; may show an obsessive interest in a single item, idea, activity or person; apparent lack of common sense; may show aggression to others or self; often has difficulty with changes in routine.


Autism without Borders