Autism is a developmental disability usually diagnosed between 18 and 36 months of age.
Autism affects an individual’s most pivotal behaviours like communication, expression of personal feelings, social interaction and relationship development. Autism impacts how individuals learn to socialize and participate in their communities and is diagnosed according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM V.
Individuals must display a total of six or more items from three categories in order to be diagnosed.
Qualitative impairment in social interaction as manifested by at least two of the following:
- Marked impairment in the use of multiple non-verbal behaviours like eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, postures and gestures normally used to regulate social interaction.
- Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
- Lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests or achievement with other people.
- Lack of social or emotional reciprocity.
Qualitative impairments in communication as manifested by at least one of the following:
- Delay in or total lack of development of spoken language not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through alternative modes of communication
- In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain conversations.
- Stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic language.
- Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to development level.
Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behaviour, interests and activities as manifested by at least one of the following:
- Encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restrictive patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
- Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines or rituals.
- Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms (hand or finger flapping or twisting or complex whole-body movements)
- Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.
Individuals must also have delays or abnormal functioning in at least one of the following areas with onset prior to Age 3:
- Social interaction
- Language as used in social communication
- Symbolic or imaginative play
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