Autism is a developmental disorder characterized by disturbance in language, perception and socialization. A variety of biochemical, anatomical and neuroradiographical studies imply a disturbance of brain energy metabolism in autistic patients. The underlying aetiology of the disturbed bioenergetics metabolism in autism is still unknown.
Autism (sometimes called "classical autism") is the most common condition in a group of developmental disorders known as the autism spectrum disorders (ASD). There are three distinctive behaviours that characterize autism.
Autistic children have difficulties with social interaction, problems with verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviours or narrow, obsessive interests. These behaviours can range in impact from mild to disabling. The hallmark feature of Autism is impaired social interaction.
Parents are usually the first to notice symptoms of autism in their child. As early as infancy, a baby with autism may be unresponsive to people, or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. A child with autism may appear to develop normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
Many children with autism have a reduced sensitivity to pain, but are abnormally sensitive to sensations such as sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation. These unusual sensitivities may contribute to behavioural symptoms such as a resistance to being cuddled or hugged. However, other children with autism do not have any of these characteristics.
Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD)
Autism spectrum disorders can usually be reliably diagnosed by age 3, although new research is pushing back the age of diagnosis to as early as 6 months. It is a developmental disability that impairs typical development.
Communication concerns include delayed speech, lack of gestures such as pointing, or the continuous repeating of certain words or sounds. This can range from an individual who is nonverbal to not being able to interpret body language or to participate comfortably in a two-way conversation.
Social concerns may include poor eye contact, lack of interest in other children, or not being able to appropriately interact with people. This can range from isolating oneself from others socially to experiencing social awkwardness in making and maintaining ongoing relationships.
Behaviors that are repetitive and unusual might include strict adherence to routines or obsessive interests, flapping of hands, or walking on tiptoes. Individuals may exhibit rigidity in thought processes, which can include difficulty with learning abstract concepts, generalizing information, and tolerating changes in routines and/or environments.
When each of these areas are delayed or there is a lack of specific skills, the diagnosis of an Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may be given.
Autism is a syndrome, which means that it is a condition defined by the existence of a collection of characteristics.