autistic%20disorder
AUTISTIC DISORDER
Autism involves impaired social interaction, impaired communication and lack of developmentally appropriate behavior, interests or activities.
Deficit in social skills eg abnormal eye contact, failure to orient name, failure to use gestures to point or show, lack of interactive play, failure to smile, lack of sharing & interest in other children, and often withdrawn and spends hours in solitary play with restrictive or repetitive interests and behaviors.
Impaired social interaction showed as impairment in joint attention, deficits in empathy for what another person might be feeling and deficits in understanding what another person might be thinking.
Autistic child also presents with deficit in language and communication (eg nonverbal or having some speech), aberrant play skills (eg little symbolic play, preoccupation with parts of objects), variation in intellectual functioning, heightened awareness to stimuli and lowered sensitivity to stimuli.

Definition

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that begins in childhood that involves:

  • Impaired social interaction
  • Impaired communication
  • Lack of developmentally appropriate behavior, interests or activities
  • Presence of restricted and repetitive patterns of behaviors, interests or activities

Signs and Symptoms

Deficit in Social Skills

  • Abnormal eye contact
  • Failure to orient to name
  • Failure to use gestures to point or show
  • Lack of interactive play
  • Failure to make appropriate social smile
  • Lack of sharing of emotion or interest
  • Lack of interest in other children
  • Often withdrawn and spends hours in solitary play with restrictive or repetitive interests and behaviors

Impaired Social Interaction

  • Impairment in joint attention - ability to use eye contact and pointing for the purpose of sharing experiences with others
  • Deficits in empathy for what another person might be feeling
  • Deficits in understanding what another person might be thinking

Deficit in Language and Communication

  • Nonverbal that ranges from minimal vocalization to having some speech (eg capable of imitating songs, rhymes, or television commercials)
  • Odd prosody or intonation of speech
  • Echolalia
  • Pronoun reversal
  • Nonsense rhyming
  • Other idiosyncratic language forms

Aberrant Play Skills

  • Little symbolic play
  • Ritualistic and rigid behavior, needs to maintain a consistent, predictable environment
  • Tantrum-like rages when routines are disturbed
  • Preoccupation with parts of objects

Restricted, repetitive behaviors, interests or activities

  • Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements (eg lining up objects, flipping objects)
  • Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines or other rituals
  • Highly restricted, fixated interests

Variations in Intellectual Functioning

  • Mental retardation to superior intellectual functioning in select areas (splinter skills, savant behavior)
  • Typical development in certain skills and can even show strength in specific areas, such as puzzles, art, or music

Heightened Awareness to Stimuli

  • Visual scanning of hand and finger movements
  • Mouthing of objects
  • Rubbing of surfaces

Lowered Sensitivity to Stimuli

  • Diminished response to pain
  • Lack of startle response to sudden loud noises

Risk Factors

  • Risk factors include advanced parental age, prematurity, neonatal encephalopathy and genetic vulnerability
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