Autism: Symptoms, Facts, Research News
Updated/Revised Date: 2023-03-11
Author: Disabled World | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Additional References: Autism Information Publications
Synopsis: Autism is a brain development disorder often characterized by impaired social interaction communication, and restricted repetitive behavior, among other factors. The number of people diagnosed with autism has increased dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and government-subsidized financial incentives for named diagnoses. Proposed causes, such as childhood vaccines, are controversial, and the vaccine hypotheses lack convincing scientific evidence.
Autism, or autism spectrum disorder (ASD), is a lifelong, nonprogressive neurological disorder typically appearing before the age of three years. The word "autism" means a developmental disability is significantly affecting verbal and non-verbal communication and social interaction. People with ASD may behave, communicate, interact, and learn in ways that are different from most others. Often, nothing about how they look sets them apart from other people. The classic form of autism involves a triad of impairments; in social interaction, communication, language use, and limited imagination as reflected in restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped behavior patterns and activities.
Autism is a brain development disorder characterized by impaired social interaction and communication and restricted and repetitive behavior, starting before a child is three. This set of signs distinguishes autism from milder autism spectrum disorders (ASD) such as pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).
Autism falls under the category of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, which includes disorders like Rett Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and then autism is then divided up into many subtypes including Asperger's Syndrome.
For reasons as yet unidentified, autism has become an epidemic in America over the last couple of decades. While considerable controversy surrounds the issue of why this condition is escalating so rapidly, the number of children diagnosed with autism has risen from one in 2,000 to one in 59 today. Other proposed causes, such as childhood vaccines, are controversial, and the vaccine hypotheses lack convincing scientific evidence.
Autism and ADHD could present with each other or with various other conditions - but they do not "typically" present together. Some autism symptoms could appear, like inattention. You should not easily confuse someone with ADHD with someone with autism, as their functioning and behavior are different. Autistic individuals display many forms of repetitive or restricted behavior, which the Repetitive Behavior Scale-Revised (RBS-R) categorizes as follows:
- Compulsive behavior is intended and appears to follow the rules, such as arranging objects in a certain way.
- Stereotypy is purposeless movement, such as hand flapping, making sounds, head rolling, or body rocking.
- Sameness is resistance to change; for example, insisting that the furniture not be moved or refusing to be interrupted.
- Restricted behavior is limited in focus, interest, or activity, such as preoccupation with a single television program or toy.
- Self-injury includes movements that injure or can injure the person, such as biting oneself. A 2007 study reported that self-injury at some point affected about 30% of children with ASD.
- Ritualistic behavior involves performing daily activities the same way each time, such as an unvarying menu or dressing ritual. This is closely associated with sameness, and an independent validation has suggested combining the two factors.
No single repetitive behavior appears to be specific to autism, but only autism appears to have an elevated pattern of occurrence and severity of these behaviors. Early behavioral or cognitive intervention can help children gain self-care and social and communication skills. There is currently no known cure for autism.
Children and Adults with ASD May:
- Avoid eye contact and want to be alone
- Repeat actions over and over again
- Have trouble adapting when a routine changes
- Not look at objects when another person points at them
- Not play "pretend" games (for example, not pretend to feed a doll)
- Have trouble expressing their needs using typical words or motions
- Prefer not to be held or cuddled, or might cuddle only when they want to
- Have unusual reactions to the way things smell, taste, look, feel, or sound
- Lose skills they once had (for example, stop saying words they were using)
- Have trouble relating to others or not have an interest in other people at all
- Appear to be unaware when people talk to them, but respond to other sounds
- Be very interested in people, but not know how to talk, play, or relate to them
- Not point at objects to show interest (for example, not point at an airplane flying over)
- Have trouble understanding other people's feelings or talking about their feelings
- Repeat or echo words or phrases said to them, or repeat words or phrases in place of normal language
Common Autistic Traits
Behaviorally, certain characteristics identify the autism spectrum. The number of autistic traits determines the severity of autism in the individual. These autistic traits may benefit disciplines like science, mathematics, and engineering.
- Lack of eye contact
- Social awkwardness
- Poor ability to make friends
- Brief response to questions
- Indiscriminate social interaction
- Lack of observed desire for friendship
- Pronoun reversal
- Use of rote chunks of language
- Late or no development of language
- Overly formal and pedantic language
- Odd or monotonous prosody of speech
- Visuospatial thinking, sometimes preferred
- Poor use and understanding of nonverbal communication (i.e., facial expressions and body language)
Imaginative Impairment and Repetitive Adherence
- Preference for routine
- Perseverative interest or focus
- Concrete and literal use of language
- Poor understanding of abstract thought, metaphors, and symbolism
- Absorption in detail; inability to understand meaning or the whole of a concept
Sensory Integration Dysfunction
- Self-stimulating mannerisms
- Fine or gross motor discoordination
- Peculiar clothing and food preferences
- Hyper- or hyposensitivity of the various senses
The number of people diagnosed has been increasing dramatically since the 1980s, partly due to changes in diagnostic practice and government-subsidized financial incentives for named diagnoses; whether actual rates have increased is unresolved.
- 2018 figures now place autism rates at 1 in 59 in the U.S.
- The rate of autism among adults aged 18 years and over in the United Kingdom is 1.1%.
- Boys are at higher risk for ASD than girls. The sex ratio averages 4.3:1 and is greatly modified by cognitive impairment: it may be close to 2:1 with intellectual disability and more than 5.5:1 without.
Subtopics and Associated Subjects
|Latest Autism Information Publications|
|Link Between Autism in Children and Cardiometabolic Diseases|
Association established between autism and obesity, as well as autism and cardiometabolic disease, including diabetes and dyslipidemia.
Publish Date: 2023-03-14 - Updated: 2023-03-17
|Kids at Risk for Autism Struggle to Notice Mismatched Video and Audio|
Research that may eventually enable far earlier autism diagnoses shows that typically developing infants perceive audio-video synchrony better than high-risk for autism infants.
Publish Date: 2023-03-14
|Endogenous Retrovirus Activation Increases Fetus Autism Susceptibility|
Ancient virus genome drives autism revealed as discoveries regarding autism onset found in research models.
Publish Date: 2023-03-10
|Giant Leap Forward in Understanding Autism|
In Fragile X syndrome (FXS), the most common cause of autism, sensory signals from the outside world integrate differently, causing them to be underrepresented by cortical pyramidal neurons in the brain.
Publish Date: 2023-02-16
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