What is Autism?

There is much debate around the word Autism and what it actually means. More recently a number of similar terms such as Aspergers and PDD-Nos have merged into one name, Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is Autism?

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopment disorder which cause substantial impairments in social interaction and communication. There are associated repetitive behaviours and unusual interests as well as many people experiencing unusual ways of learning, paying attention and/or reacting to different sensations.

Under the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), the three separate diagnoses (Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD-NOS) have been merged into one single diagnosis, known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.

The diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder will be given on the basis of difficulties in two areas: Social Communication and Restricted and Repetitive Patterns of Behaviour Interests and Activities.

DSM-5 requires that a severity rating be applied to both domains of impairment, ranging from Level 1 – Requiring Support to Level 3 – Requiring Very Substantial Support.

Clinicians are able to diagnose two or more disorders (co-morbidities) (such as ADHA, anxiety disorder, specific language disorder) to allow for a more comprehensive description of an individual’s presentation.

6 Interesting Facts about Autism

  1. Globally, autism is estimated to affect 21.7 million people as of 2013.[13] As of 2010, the number of people affected is estimated at about 1–2 per 1,000 worldwide.
  2. It occurs four to five times more often in boys than girls. About 1.5% of children in the United States (one in 68) are diagnosed with ASD as of 2014, a 30% increase from one in 88 in 2012.[14][15][16]
  3. The rate of autism among adults aged 18 years and over in the United Kingdom is 1.1%.[17] The number of people diagnosed has been increasing dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and government-subsidised financial incentives for named diagnoses;[16] the question of whether actual rates have increased is unresolved.[18]
  4. Although there is no known cure,[2] there have been reported cases of children who recovered.[10] Not many children with autism live independently after reaching adulthood, though there are many cases of adults with Autism becoming successful and living very fulfilling lives.
  5. The earliest well-documented case of autism is that of Hugh Blair of Borgue, as detailed in a 1747 court case in which his brother successfully petitioned to annul Blair’s marriage to gain Blair’s inheritance.[214]
  6. The word autism first took its modern sense in 1938 when Hans Asperger of the Vienna University Hospital adopted Bleuler’s terminology autistic psychopaths in a lecture in German about child psychology.[217] Asperger was investigating an ASD now known as Asperger syndrome, though for various reasons it was not widely recognised as a separate diagnosis until 1981.

Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and PDD-NOS have been merged into one single diagnosis, known as Autism Spectrum Disorder.