What is Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder?
These neurodevelopmental disorders can be characterized by degrees in verbal and nonverbal communication, repetitive behavior and difficulties with social interactions. As of the DSM-V publication in May 2013 all autism related disorders now fall under one umbrella diagnosis of ASD whereas before they were all seen as subtypes, these included Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), childhood disintegrative disorder and autistic disorder.
Individuals with ASD tend to show a lack of interest in communication, so they may give spontaneous answers without thinking about it. Hence there is a chance of responding inappropriately in conversations. There is also the high dependence on routines and they avert to change in their environment and/or intensely focused on inappropriate items. Individuals with ASD will fall on a continuum with some showing symptoms that are mild and others having more severe symptoms. This wide spectrum accounts for the variations in behaviors and symptoms.
Other ASD associations are with difficulties in motor coordination, intellectual disability and physical health issues such as sleep and gastrointestinal disturbances. Some individuals with ASD excel in math, art, music and visual skills.
ASD seems to develop from the very early stages of brain development. The most noticeable signs and symptoms emerge between two and three years of age. There is continuing research into earlier diagnosis that in turn can improve outcomes.
Asperger’s Syndrome is a neurodevelopmental disorder that is one of five disorders on the autism spectrum. This is mainly due to the fact that the two disorders share some common symptoms. This classification is also partly because they appear to have some kind of genetic link. Some researchers however believe Asperger’s Syndrome is a completely separate disorder which despite having some common traits is not the same as ‘classic’ autism. It affects both boys and girls with boys being the majority. About four boys to every one girl are diagnosed with autism. There has been an increase in numbers but it could be due to more awareness and better diagnosis.
There is research that suggests Asperger’s runs in the family and members of the family are more likely to have highly developed engineering or mathematical skills. Having Asperger’s can however make the education process a little more challenging, and thus requires the correct support and education, since these children still have autism’s symptoms.