AUTISM DATABASE

Autism (also known as Autism spectrum disorders) are a group of neurodevelopmental disorders that can affect language skills, behavior, social interactions, and the ability to learn. 

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WHAT IS AUTISM?

 

Autism (also called autism spectrum disorder) refers to a range of neurodevelopmental disorders characterized by challenges in verbal and non-verbal communication, impaired social skills, speech, and repetitive behaviors.

In most cases, the signs of autism appear between the ages of 2 and 3 years of age. There are some cases where a diagnosis can be made as early as 18 months. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 68 children have been diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder. It is more prevalent in boys than girls as It affects 1 in 42 males versus 1 in 189 females.

If you feel that there are delays in your child's development, consult a doctor or therapist.

What is Asperger's syndrome?

Asperger's syndrome is a developmental disorder characterized by impaired social skills, and rigid, repetitive behaviors as well as restricted areas of interest and activities. Typical features may include:

  • Clumsy and uncoordinated motor movements.

  • Display an intense interest in a specific subject.

  • Difficulty making eye contact.

  • Difficulty reading body language

  • Rigid, abnormal adherence to routines.

 

Social interactions can be difficult for individuals with Asperger's syndrome. They may not know what to say or how to respond in conversations. Reading body language or the expressions on people's faces is also a challenge. 

They may talk about themselves often or speak extensively about a specific subject. They might repeat a word or phrase many times.  People with Asperger syndrome tend to be most comfortable "in their own world".

Children with Asperger's are more likely to become independent, fully functioning adults. However, these individuals may continue to have difficulty with social interactions as life goes on. Conversations can be awkward for some individuals on the spectrum because of their challenges reading body movement or facial expressions.

Asperger's syndrome is named after the Austrian pediatrician Hans Asperger. In 1944, he published a paper about his research on the behavior patterns on several young men who exhibited normal intelligence and language development but somehow showed signs of autism.

Asperger's syndrome was added to the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV) in 1994. It was described as a separate disorder from autism. The latest edition (DSM-V) which was published in 2013, created a new diagnosis. In this new category Autistic Disorder, Asperger's Syndrome, and other developmental disorders all related.

Due to the change, individuals who were once diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome most likely were re-diagnosed within this new umbrella of the autism spectrum disorder because of these changes and revisions.

It is strongly recommended that you should refrain from self-diagnosing or treating your child. Asperger's syndrome, as well as other PDDs and autism spectrum disorders, should be diagnosed by experienced, licensed professionals. If you feel that there are delays in your child's development, consult a doctor or therapist.

Developmental "RED FLAGS"

Request an immediate evaluation by your child’s pediatrician if:

  • By 6 months: No big smiles or other warm, joyful expressions

  • By 9 months: No back-and-forth sharing of sounds, smiles, or other facial expressions

  • By 12 months: Lack of response to name

  • By 12 months: No babbling or “baby talk”

  • By 12 months: No back-and-forth gestures, such as pointing, showing, reaching, or waving

  • By 16 months: No spoken words

  • By 24 months: No meaningful two-word phrases that don’t involve imitating or repeating.

NOTE: Not all children with autism exhibit these symptoms. This is why it's very important that parents refrain from self-diagnosing their children. Diagnosing autism requires evaluation and the expertise of highly trained professionals. 

COMMON SYMPTOMS:

  • The child doesn't respond to their name when called.

  • Avoid physical or eye contact.

  • Adheres to a rigid routine. Children with autism may become frustrated when their routines are disrupted.

  • Exhibits repetitive behaviors such as spinning, hand flapping or rocking

  • Repeating words or phrases.

  • Give answers that are completely unrelated to questions.

  • Shows difficulty understanding other people's feelings.

  • Doesn't use gestures to communicate. (e.g. Pointing at desired objects, reaching for a parent to be held, waving Hello or Goodbye.)

  • Shows restricted or obsessive interest.

  • Over or under-reacts to sounds, sights, smell or taste.

 

What is PDD NOS?

Pervasive Developmental Disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) also went through a name change in 2013 when the American Psychiatric Association reclassified Asperger's syndrome, autistic disorder, and PDD-NOS as autism spectrum disorders. PDD-NOS became the diagnosis for individuals who are on the autism spectrum but don't fit the criteria for autism or other PDDs. But a pervasive developmental disorder exists where social interactions, behavior, and communication are affected.

Due to the DSM-5's revision of PDD-NOS, individuals who were once diagnosed with PDD-NOS or Asperger's Syndrome most likely were re-diagnosed within the new umbrella of the autism spectrum disorder because of the DSM changes and revisions.

Typical characteristics of individuals with PDD-NOS are:

  • Challenges in social interactions.

  • Difficulty with changes in routines or environments.

  • Uneven skill development (high in some areas and low in others).

  • Unusual play with toys and other objects.

  • Repetitive body movements or behavior patterns.

 

It is strongly recommended that you should refrain from self-diagnosing or treating your child. PDD-NOS, as well as other PDDs and autism spectrum disorders, should be diagnosed by experienced, licensed professionals. If you feel that there are delays in your child's development, consult a doctor or therapist.

 

What is Childhood Disintegrative Disorder?

Childhood Disintegrative Disorder is a rare condition characterized by late developmental delays or drastic reversals in social interaction, motor skills, and language. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version 5 (DSM-5) added CDD into a single diagnostic called "autism spectrum disorder" in 2013.

CDD is referred to as "regressive autism" describing any type of autism where regression takes place. Children will develop normally in the beginning and even reach certain milestones before learned skills are affected. Typically, the child develops normally until around the age of three. The skills that they've acquired are lost almost completely.

Social and emotional development also regresses, resulting in difficulty relating to others. In addition, restricted, repetitive, or stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities occur. 

Children affected with CDD develop normally like other age-appropriate children. By the time the child reaches the age of three, learned skills are lost completely in some of the areas listed below:

  • Social skills and self-care

  • Loss of control over bowels and bladder.

  • comprehension: Conversation becomes a challenge language skills diminish.

  • Diminished motor skills

  • Diminished play

Other names for Childhood disintegrative disorder:

  • Heller's syndrome

  • Disintegrative psychosis

 

What is Autistic Disorder?

Autistic disorder (also known as classic autism or Kanner's autism) is best described as the most serious form autism spectrum disorder. It's further along the spectrum than PDD-NOS and Asperger's syndrome. It includes the same symptoms, but at a more deeper level. Children with classic autism have noticeable issues with speech and communication, behavior and social interaction. individuals diagnosed with classic autism are often hypersensitive and avoid physical contact with others. 

They can be extremely sensitive to touch, smells, sounds and even sight. This can cause the child to react violently to sensory input. Many people with at this end of the spectrum will not try anything new. They are driven by routines and will often show extreme dislike when their routines are disrupted. Many individuals are incapable of making eye contact when speaking to other people.

Children will start to exhibit symptoms around the age of three and continue as they get older. Symptoms may include:

  • Rigid, dogmatic behavior.

  • Repetitive actions and speech.

  • Self harm. Hitting or scratching themselves.

  • Withdrawn and avoids social situations. Will not make eye contact.

  • Obsessive focus on a specific interest.

 

What is Rett syndrome?

Prior to the discovery of a genetic cause, The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) designated Rett syndrome as a pervasive developmental disorder. After the research proved a genetic origin, the DSM-5 declassified it all together as a mental disorder.

Rett Syndrome is a genetic brain disorder that affects mostly girls. The age when symptoms appear may vary. But symptoms usually appear within the first two years. Some of the symptoms of Rett syndrome include:

  • Microcephaly: A rare disorder in the nervous system that causes a child's head to not fully develop. The child's brain doesn't grow as it should.

  • Difficulty moving hands: Most children with Rett syndrome experience regressive use of their hands. Repetitive hand movements such as wringing or rubbing are noted. They may also repeatedly place their hands in their mouth.

  • Incontinence is also a sign of Rett Syndrome.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Loss of language skills: Between 1 to 4 years of age, social and language skills start to decline. Children with Rett syndrome stop talking and can have extreme social anxiety. They may stay away from or not be interested in other people, toys, and their surroundings.

  • Difficulty breathing: A child with Rett may have uncoordinated breathing and seizures, including very fast breathing (hyperventilation), forceful exhaling of air or saliva, and swallowing air

Symptoms of Rett syndrome usually don’t improve over time. It’s a lifelong condition. Often, the symptoms worsen very slowly or don’t change. It’s rare for people with Rett syndrome to be able to live independently.

 
 

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