What Is Autism

Autism is a complex developmental disability, most often characterized by impairments in social communication and by restricted or repetitive behavior.  

Also referred to as autism spectrum disorder, this developmental disorder appears early in a person’s life.  You can learn about the early signs of autism by clicking here

The current version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-5) includes a single diagnosis, autism spectrum disorder, for all of autism. This diagnosis emphasizes “deficits in social communication and social interaction” and “restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.” Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) replaces the DSM-IV category of pervasive developmental disorders (PDDs) and the specific diagnoses of autistic disorder, Asperger's disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).

There has been some concern that some individuals previously given one of those diagnoses might not meet DSM-5 criteria for autism spectrum disorder and might experience a loss of supports. However, the DSM-5 definition includes the statement:

“Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals who have marked deficits in social communication, but whose symptoms do not otherwise meet criteria for autism spectrum disorder, should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder.”

To see the DSM-5 definitions of autism spectrum disorder and social (pragmatic) communication disorder, please click here.    

For more information on the report summarized below, check out the latest from Dr. Oswald's Blog