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Autism Spectrum Disorders - Pervasive Developmental Disabilities

A Wide Range of Behavioral and Language Challenges With Similar Characteristics

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Autism spectrum disorders are the fastest growing cluster of disorders in the United States. When Leo Kanner first diagnosed Autism in 1943, children with these disabilities were rare, perhaps fewer than one in 10,000. In January, 2010 the Centers for Disease Control released a report that set the number of children with autism at on in 110 births. From one hundredth of a percent to 1 percent in 60 years.

Whether it is an epidemic or just an upward trend, the number of children with autism, considering the extent of disability and the behavioral and social challenges that accompany it, is a serious societal problem

Characteristics

Autism is a spectrum disorder, and there is a huge amount of variability between individuals with the disorder. Some have very little language, others speak clearly and seem to have large vocabularies. Some are hyper sensitive to sounds, or physical touch. Others are hypo-sensitive, and seem to ignore sounds, or can show no response to hot or cold, to physical discomfort or crave pressure.

There are some common traits. Children with autism spectrum disorders have difficulty with spoken communication, or language, which is often late in developing or non existent. Children with autism have difficulty with social interaction. And children with autism exhibit stereotypic behavior, such as stimming (self stimulation through hand flapping of other repetitive movement) or perseverating on preferred items, activities or ideas. Read more . . .

Diagnosis

Autism is a disorder, not a disease.. No identifying medical symptoms have been found although there are a number of common traits, Diagnosis needs to be done by experts, either doctors, psychiatrists, or child psychologists who specializes in autism spectrum disorders not only to properly diagnose autism, but to rule out other medical problems that may cause a child to exhibit autism like behavior.. Diagnosis is done using the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV, (DSMIV) the official diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association, and requires that the specialist identify 6 traits across three axis. Read more . . .

Spectrum

Autism is called a spectrum disorder because children with the diagnosis are often very different from each other. Some children have severe symptoms which significantly impede their ability to live and function in the community. These children may never develop language and they may never hold a job. Other children have good language, good functional skills and may even go to college.

Autism: Children with "autism" have what was traditionally called Kanner's Disorder, which includes significant language delays, stereotypic, or repetitive behavior, and very poor or non-existence social skills. Most children's disabilities mean they test as having significant cognitive disabilities.

Pervasive Developmental Delay- No Other Symptoms.(PDD-NOS) Children who do not completely conform to the profile required by the DSM IV but still have significant problems, have been diagnosed as PDD-NOS. The current push is to eliminate PDD-NOS as a recognized, separate syndrome. The DSM V is reputed to describe it as a place on the autism continuum.

Asperger's Syndrome: Soon after it was announced that Asperger's syndrome would no longer be a a separate diagnosis, parents of children with Asperger's syndrome panicked with the fear that their children would lose special education services. Their greatest need is in the area of psycho-social functioning. They are usually of average intelligence, though some may actually be gifted.

Fragile X: Young men with Fragile X (usually male, because it is found on the x chromosome) display the symptoms of autism, and can bear autism as their primary diagnosis, since the treatment and educational strategies are the same. They do, however, have specific physical symptoms, including enlarged heads and features, as well as the fact that it can be identified in the lab by examining genetic material.

Rett's Disease Rett's Disease, also known as Rett Disorder, is found among girls, and is degenerative in nature. Girls with Rett's start out developing typically, but about the age of one their heads stop growing and they begin to lose language. By adulthood they tend to be significantly cognitively disabled.

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