What is Autism?

Autism is a developmental disorder that manifests its features during the first 30 months of life. It is characterized by impairment in social interaction, communication, restricted and repetitive behavior.

History of Autism

The word autism comes from the Greek word autos, which means “self”. The label “autistic” was first introduced by eminent psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler near the beginning of the 20th century. Originally, the term referred to a striking disturbance in schizophrenia, therefore, narrowing all sorts of relationships with people and excluding everything except one self.

In 1943, Leo Kanner saw cases of strange children who seemed unable to have any form of normal relationships with their peers. In contrast to schizophrenia, he noticed this behavior appeared to have been there from the very beginning. Furthermore, there was no progressive deterioration which is the case with schizophrenia.

Causes, Symptoms and Diagnosis

Causes

There is no known single cause for autism. Many genetic and environmental theories have been proposed but no definite cause has been reached yet. It has been generally accepted that autism might not be a single disorder, but a combination of certain aspects such as social impairment, repetitive behavior, and communication difficulties, each having distinct causes.

Symptoms

  • Inappropriate laughing or giggling
  • Extreme distress for no apparent reason; tantrums
  • Resists changes in routine;insistence on sameness
  • Little or no eye contact
  • Not responsive to verbal cues, acts as deaf
  • Sustained odd play
  • Difficulty in expressing need; may use gestures
  • Spins objects
  • Inappropriate attachment to objects\
  • Difficulty in mixing with other children
  • Not cuddly
  • Uneven gross/fine motor skills

Diagnosis

There are no genetic or medical tests that can detect autism. An experienced professional must observe the child, acquire knowledge about the child’s development and then proceed to objectively follow internationally recognized criteria for diagnosis. The center utilizes the developmental tests which demonstrate feasibility in assessing actual and potential abilities of autistic children. At the top of the list:

  1. Psycho-educational profile (revised) PEP-R for children up to 11 years
  2. Diagnostic statistical manual IV edition revised DSM IV issued by American Psychiatric Association in 1994
  3. Psycho-educational profile for adolescent and adults AAPEP

Autism Resources

We have compiled a list of national organizations to help you gain knowledge about autism spectrum disorder