What Is Autism?
What Is Autism?
Autism is a pervasive developmental disorder. This means it becomes apparent in early childhood and affects all aspects of a child’s development. The word Autism was first used as a diagnosis in 1943, by Dr. Leo Kanner (Kanner, 1943) of Maryland’s Johns Hopkins Hospital, after studying 11 children he diagnosed to have early infantile Autism. According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 59 children have been identified with Autism spectrum disorder. Prevalence of Autism in U.S. children increased by 119.4% from 2000 (1 in 150) to 2010 (1 in 68). (CDC, 2014) Autism is the fastest-growing developmental disability and is four times more prevalent in boys than in girls. (Autism Society of America)
A diagnosis of Autism is given when three specific areas of development are significantly affected. These three areas are known as the “triad of impairments”. They are: social development, communication and repetitious behaviors and restricted interests (American Psychological Association, 1994, World Health Organizations, 1994). More specifically, people with Autism tend to be challenged by the ability to understand other’s perspectives or even attribute mental states to other people (often knows as mind-blindness or lack of Theory of Mind) and may display a lack of empathy. Communication challenges may range from no use of language to the lack of ability to have fluid, creative conversations. Repetitious behaviors (often referred to as “stims”) may be patterns of motor movements (fine or gross motor), repeated verbal lines (often called “scripting”) or involve unusual sensory stimulations (e.g. spinning or dropping objects or watching movement). Other children with Autism may have more usual interests but have an unusually restricted range of interests or become obsessive about a few interests. These developmental differences tend to become apparent between 18 and 36 months of age (see Early Symptoms of Autism).