a developmental disorder that typically appears during the first
three years of life and may be the result of a neurological
disorder that affects the brain. Autism is classified by the
American Psychiatric Association as a Pervasive Development
Disorder (APA, 1994). It is defined by symptoms that appear
before the age of three which reflect delayed or abnormal development
in Language, Social Skills and Behavioral Repertoire.
disorder symptoms manifest themselves as follows:
The person fulfills a total of at least 6 criteria from the
following 3 lists, distributed as
Impaired social interaction
(at least 2):
deficient regulation of social interaction by using multiple
non-verbal behaviors such as eye contact, facial expression,
body posture and gestures.
Lack of peer relationships that are appropriate to the developmental
Doesn't seek to share achievements, interests or pleasure
Lacks social or emotional reciprocity.
communication (at least 1):
or absent development of spoken language for which the patient
doesn't try to compensate with gestures.
In person's who can speak, inadequate attempts to begin or
sustain a conversation.
Language that is repetitive, stereotyped or idiosyncratic.
Appropriate to developmental stage, absence of social imitative
play or spontaneous, make-believe play.
behavior and interests that are repetitive, restricted and stereotyped
(at least 1 of):
with abnormal (in focus or intensity) interests that are restricted
and stereotyped (such as spinning things).
Rigidly sticks to routines or rituals that don't appear to
have a function.
Has stereotyped, repetitive motor mannerisms, such as hand
Persistently preoccupied with parts of objects.
Before age three, the person shows delayed or abnormal functioning
in 1 or more of these areas:
Language used in social communication.
Imaginative or symbolic play.
These symptoms are not better explained by Childhood Disintegrative
Disorder or Rett's Disorder.
Dysarthria or Involuntary Movement
or Eccentric or Suspicious Personality
Anxious or Fearful or Dependent
Some disorders have similar symptoms. The clinician, therefore,
in his diagnostic attempt has to differentiate against the following
disorders which need to be ruled out to establish a precise
cause or causes of autism is/are still not known but research
shows that genetic factors are important. It is also evident
from research that autism is associated with a variety of conditions
affecting brain development which occur before, during, or very
soon after birth. See Asperger's
of this disorder is very difficult and prolonged. Parents, teachers,
and therapists work together in coordinated efforts to encourage
social adjustment and speech development in the child. Positive
reinforcement techniques such as offering food for appropriate
behavior or language responses have been successful in promoting
skills. Treatment may be in an institution, specialized school,
day-care setting, or in the home. Family members may need counseling
because they often feel guilty or inadequate. Treatments such
as dietary modification and vitamin therapies, medication, music
therapy, colored or prism lenses, auditory training, sensory
integration, social skills programming, speech therapy.
and Psychotherapy [ See
Therapy Section ]:
behavior modification programmes such as; Behavior Analysis
and Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA).