What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?

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What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?  An Overview

The term Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is used a lot these days.  Autism Spectrum Disorder is a collection of complicated brain development disorders.  These disorders manifest in various degrees as difficulties with social interaction, repetitive behaviors and issues with verbal and nonverbal communication.

Intellectual disabilities, difficulties with attention and motor coordination are often associated with ASD; conversely, some with ASD show unique aptitudes with math, music, visual skills and art.  In the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) the various subtypes of autism were all reclassified as a part of Autism Spectrum Disorder.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?  A Brief History

Autism Spectrum Disorder affects one in sixty-eight children in the United States today.  That amounts to three million across the nation and tens of millions who are affected worldwide.

The term autism was coined in 1908, though it was not until 1943 when Doctor Leo Kanner, MD, published a paper exploring many of the recognized symptoms of ASD.  In 1944 German Scientist Hans Asperger noted a lesser variant of Autism, what we today call Asperger’s Syndrome.

In the late 1970’s researchers learned Autism was a matter of genetic and biological brain differences.  In 1980 Autism was first listed in the DSM as “infantile autism”.  In 1987 this was broadened and re-termed as autism disorder with an expanded definition and diagnostic criteria.

In 1991 the federal government made autism a special category, and public schools began to offer children on the spectrum special services.  In 1994 Aspergers Syndrome was added to the DSM.

In 1998 a now infamous “study” published in The Lancet suggested a connection between certain vaccinations and autism.  Though debunked, today this still causes a great deal of controversy.

In 2013 The DSM-5 recategorized all subtypes of autism, including Aspergers Syndrome, as Autism Spectrum Disorder.  ASD is further broken down into two categories – impaired social communication and/or interactions; restricted and/or repetitive behaviors.

Thus the answer to the question of what is autism spectrum disorder can be viewed over time as an evolution of the understanding of a complex neurological issue that affects millions, but for which all kinds of options and solutions are being sought and continually researched.

What is Autism Spectrum Disorder?  Options for Everyone

Those on the Autism Spectrum have many options and programs available to them and to their caregivers and loved ones in order to help build connections that will allow them to experience life to its fullest.

Studies have shown that about forty percent of those diagnosed with ASD have average to even above-average intellectual capabilities.  Despite being on the spectrum, many make use of their unique way of seeing the world, and lead normal, active and productive lives.

When it comes to what is Autism Spectrum Disorder, Profectum has developed the DIR-FCD Model (Developmental, Individual Differences, Relationship modeFoundational Capacities for Development) to provide parents, practitioners, instructors and more with practical options for building interactions and creating the best means to help those with Autism Spectrum Disorder throughout their development.

This blog post was provided by a contributing author.