Autism is a disorder in which children have an inability to develop relationships with people, delayed speech acquisition, non-communicative use of speech, repetitive mannerisms, and marked distress during changes of normal conditions that they are accustomed to. Generally, autistic people have a normal physical appearance.
Autism is considered a spectrum disorder because symptoms and severity vary from case to case. Autism Spectrum Disorders currently encompass the following:
(AKA “classic autism”); Affects a person’s ability to communicate, form relationships with others, and respond appropriately to the environment. Some people with autistic disorder are high functioning, and have the ability to speak and interact with others, while others are more severely affected and nonverbal and/or mentally retarded.
This disorder differs from autistic disorder, in that individuals with Asperger Syndrome do not have a delay in spoken language development. However, they can have serious deficits in social and communication skills. People with Asperger Syndrome often have obsessive, repetitive routines and preoccupations with a particular subject matter.
Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD):
Also known as “regressive autism”, children typically develop normally for 2 to 4 years before developing this autistic-like disorder. Typically language, interest in the social environment, and often toileting and self-care abilities are lost, and there may be a general loss of interest in the environment.
Rett Syndrome is a complex genetic neurological disorder that mainly affects girls. Individuals with Rett Syndrome develop normally until 6 to 18 months of age followed by a developmental regression. This regression is followed by a deceleration of head growth, loss of purposeful hand movements and followed by the appearance of midline, stereotypic hand movements.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS):
Also known as “atypical autism”, PDD/NOS is a diagnosis often considered for children who show some symptoms of autistic disorder, but who do not meet the specific diagnostic criteria for the other Pervasive Developmental Disorders.