Autism, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is characterized by the DSM-5 as a Neurodevelopmental Disorder, in which an individual demonstrates a deficiency in mutual (reciprocal) social communications or interactions along with repetitive behaviors or activities, limited interests, and a desire for sameness. It is identified in the early developmental stages of a child’s life (typically within the first three years). The term “spectrum” is used because of how drastically different the impact on a child’s life can be, from mild impairment to severe disability, with the diagnosis now including several previous separately categorized disorders.
Specifically, an autistic child may have a tendency to hurt themselves through behaviors such as biting or banging their heads against a wall. They may also exhibit atypical eating or sleeping patterns. In some cases, children may regress in terms of their development, actually losing some of the skills or abilities that they previously had. In all cases, a licensed clinician will be able to screen and evaluate the child’s specific presentation to determine whether or not the signs point to autism.
In particular, the social impairment may be noticeable and includes a lack of interaction with other people, little to no eye contact, apathy toward normally enjoyable activities and unusual responses to the emotions of others (such as affection). This part can be extremely difficult for parents to manage through because of the natural tendency to want to give and receive love with a child.
Although there is no known cure for autism, there are behavioral treatments that can be administered to children that can significantly improve cognitive, social and language skills. It appears that for many, the earlier the intervention the better the long term outcome is.
It’s also important to note that although autism presents early in life, there are plenty of adults living with autism and there are resources available within state and local communities. Whether you’re seeking information for your child or you are currently living with autism, WebPsychology works to provide a number of helpful resources to help better enhance one's quality of life.
The above summary by WebPsychology.
What is autism spectrum disorder?
Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is characterized by:
Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts;
Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities;
Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (typically recognized in the first two years of life); and,
Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
The term “spectrum” refers to the wide range of symptoms, skills, and levels of impairment or disability that children with ASD can have. Some children are mildly impaired by their symptoms, while others are severely disabled. The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) no longer includes Asperger’s syndrome; the characteristics of Asperger’s syndrome are included within the broader category of ASD.
National Institute of Mental Health