Autism Spectrum Disorder Basics


Autism: What Is It?

In the psychiatric community, thinking about autism has changed, as reflected in the new DSM-5 guidelines. What had been considered a set of distinct conditions described as pervasive developmental disorders—autism, Asperger’s disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder (CDD), and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS)—are now considered one disorder that presents along a spectrum of symptoms and behaviors of varying severity.

Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a condition that impacts a child’s development in two core areas: the first is social communication and social interaction, and the second is restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior and interests. ASD appears in early childhood, though it may not come to attention until the social demands exceed a child’s limitations. Boys are diagnosed with ASD around 3 to 4 times more often than girls.