Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that typically affects a person's ability to communicate, form relationships with others, and the ability to respond appropriately and flexibly to the environment.
People with this disorder can display a wide range of symptoms and disabilities. They may engage in repetitive activities, such as hand flapping, rocking or banging, their heads. Typically, they may also follow rigid familiar patterns in their everyday routines. Some people are over reactive or under reactive sensitive to sound, touch, sight, or smell.
Autism is generally called autistic spectrum disorder. This is because each of the three aspects of autism: communication, social skills and thinking style can be shown in different ways and to different degrees. For example socially the person may be seen as either
In addition their level of skills can vary from limited ability to extremely talented in specific areas. This means people with (ASD) can be very different from each other. This is why diagnosis of autism requires a specialist team made up of variety of professionals such as clinical psychologists, speech and language therapists, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, dietitians and psychiatrists.Generally on the spectrum two types of presentations of the disorder can be identified.
People with autism often seem to have sensory problems. They could be oversensitive or under sensitive to sights, sounds and noise, textures tastes and smells.. They have unusual reactions to sensory experiences. For example a liking for strange tastes or smells. Their behaviour can appear very strange but it is linked to how they experience sensations.
There are three main criteria used for diagnosis, all of which have to be present
Some people with autism may have behavioural difficulties. There are also some emotional difficulties such as fear and phobias and eating disorders. It is thought some people with autism may have particular problems with their bowels. Other people may have problems with disrupted sleep patterns.
Inability to understand language, other people's point of view and other people's feelings and thoughts means that people with autism can appear very self centered. The need for structure, routine and sameness results in them becoming very distressed and anxious especially when they cannot anticipate what is happening next.
The type of behavioural problems and how difficult they are to manage varies with each individual. Generally environmental modifications and a consistent approach are successful in reducing stress and establishing self-control. Working towards preventing outbursts of behaviour is better than having to cope with a distressed individual.
Autism is due to brain structure in particular areas of the brain. This does not usually result in physical disability. However some people with autism can be particularly clumsy, and walk in unusual ways. They may also lack the ability to to show appropriate facial expression or coordinate their body language with their speech.
Sometimes people with autism may be seen as badly behaved or extremely rude. Their inability to see other people's point of view or understand other peoples feelings is not the parent's or carer's fault.
An emotional problem is best defined as something that adults experience because of distress or depression in their life. However the emotional problems of people with autism is part of the disorder. Sometimes as they get older their awareness of their difficulties may mean they get other emotional problems in later life such as suffering from depression.
There are no physical ways, which show a person has autistic spectrum disorder. The way people move and their lack of body language can draw attention to their difficulties.
Developmental disability is a term used to describe such disabilities where intellectual, emotional and physical impairments are observed before the age of 22. As a result of disabilities an individual may have difficulties in the area of independent living, sensory-motor coordination, learning, language and communication and thus they may not develop normally. The disabilities can be severe, profound, moderate or mild but if an individual is given adequate personal, social, emotional, economic and technical support their adaptive functioning becomes better and their quality of life improves.The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV, American Psychiatric Association, 1994) uses the term Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD) to describe people who have autism spectrum disorder or autistic like conditions.People with conditions like mental retardation, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and autism spectrum disorder are described under the umbrella of Developmental disabilities.
Mental Retardation : The American Association on Mental Retardation defines Mental Retardation as a disability where there is “significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills.This disability originates before age 18. (AAMR, 2002). The AAMR definition of mental retardation emphasizes that if people with Mental Retardation are provided with appropriate and adequate kind of support over a sustained period their life functioning will generally improve