AUTISM AS A SPECTRUM DISORDER
Diagnosis of autism
and related disorders is a complex and often difficult affair. To
date, it has been grouped with Asperger's
syndrome and three other disorders under the category of Pervasive
Developmental Disorders. Because there is a such a diverse range
of symptoms and degrees of severity, the term 'autism spectrum'
is becoming more common. The idea of a spectrum is that instead
of trying to 'box' individuals into a specific disorder, they are
seen as part of a spectrum: from the severe end where a child may
have a profound intellectual
disability, never communicate, and
need full-time care, to a child who will experience some difficulties
but be able to attend regular schooling and go on to employment,
relationships, and the hallmarks of a typical lifestyle.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Autism Spectrum Disorder?
Autism and Asperger's syndrome are part of this
spectrum and are increasingly referred to as Autism Spectrum Disorders.
This increasingly popular term refers to a broad definition of autism
including the classic form of the disorder as well as closely related
conditions such as Pervasive Developmental Disorder - Not Otherwise
and Asperger’s syndrome. Although the classic form of autism can
be easily distinguished from other forms of Autism Spectrum Disorder,
the terms are often used interchangeably.
A related continuum, Sensory
Integration Dysfunction, involves how well humans integrate
the information they receive from their senses. autism, Asperger’s
syndrome, and Sensory
Integration Dysfunction are all closely related and overlap.
Some people believe that there might be two manifestations of classical
autism, regressive autism and early infantile autism. Early infantile
autism is present at birth while regressive autism begins before
the age of three and often around 18 months. Although this causes
some controversy over when the neurological differences involved
in autism truly begin, some speculate that an environmental influence
or toxin triggers the disorder.
Autism as a set of symptoms
A paper published in 2006 concerning the behavioral,
cognitive, and genetic bases of autism argues that autism should
perhaps not be seen as a single disorder, but rather as a set of
distinct symptoms (social difficulties, communicative difficulties
behaviors) that have their own distinct causes. An implication
of this would be that a search for a “cure” for autism is unlikely
to succeed if it is not examined as separate, albeit overlapping
and commonly co-occurring, disorders.
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This autism fact sheet is licensed under the GNU
Free Documentation. It is derivative of autism and Aspergers--related articles at http://en.wikipedia.org