Autism Spectrum Disorder

Autism is a development disorder that appears in childhood. It affects the development of communication and social interaction skills. The term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) was previously used to refer to a spectrum of conditions including Autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, Childhood Integrative Disorder, or Pervasive Developmental Disorder – Not Otherwise Specified. However, it is now recognised that the severity of symptoms and behaviours vary from person to person, ranging from a mild learning and social disability to severe impairment with multiple problems and highly unusual behaviour. To allow clinicians to fully account for these variations, ASD is now considered to be a continuum.[1] This also allows people whose symptoms have not been recognised until social demands exceed their capacity to receive the diagnosis.

Classic autism is usually detected at birth or within 2 years of birth in a child who has shown normal development until then. However, speech develops normally in children with high-functioning autism and Asperger’s syndrome, so these conditions are not noticeable until the child is older. The average age of diagnosis of Asperger’s is around 7 years.

It is not affected by race or country, though it seems to affect more boys than girls – 4 out of 5 children who have autism are boys. A possible reason cited is that it may be more difficult to recognise autism in girls. Another explanation by Hans Asperger suggests that autism is an extreme form of ‘male’ behaviour thus may naturally occur more in boys than girls.

Recognizing Autism Spectrum Disorder
Diagnosing Autism Spectrum Disorder
Living with Autism Spectrum Disorder
Frequently Asked Questions
Acknowledgement and References