Home > School and Learning > Learning Differences > Autism > Three Areas That Characterize Autism Spectrum Disorders
|

Three Areas That Characterize Autism Spectrum Disorders

There are basically three areas of observable symptoms that characterize autism spectrum disorders (ASDs): impairment of social relationships, of social communication, and of imaginative thought. Some of the symptoms may be mild, others more obvious. It is the number and severity of these symptoms that leads to concerns on the part of the parent or the professional. Examples of behaviors that portray these characteristics are listed here.

Lorna Wing, M.D., FRCPsych, a founding member of the National Autistic Society, consultant psychiatrist at the NAS's Centre for Social and Communication Disorders, and author of The Autistic Spectrum, describes these areas of impairment:

  • Impairment of social relationships: An individual may not use or understand nonverbal behavior or develop peer relationships that are appropriate to his developmental level, or may appear aloof and indifferent to other people.
  • Impairment of social communication: There may be a total lack of or delay in the development of speech (with no attempts to communicate by gestures). The individual does not sustain or initiate conversation, or uses language in a stereotyped and repetitive manner.
  • Impairment of imaginative thought: An individual may have an all-encompassing, intense preoccupation with one interest or topic; or have inflexible, nonfunctional rituals or routines. Repetitive motor mannerisms such as hand flapping or spinning of objects may be observed. Often there is a lack of make-believe or social imitative play.

Difficulties in one or more of the areas listed above are required for a diagnosis of an ASD, but several additional observable behaviors do not necessarily fit into any of the three. Although on their own they do not call for a diagnosis of an ASD, these other characteristics are often associated with ASDs, and they are important when evaluating and assessing for the purpose of putting together a treatment plan.

More on: Autism

|

Excerpted from Autism Spectrum Disorders: The Complete Guide to Understanding Autism, Asperger's Syndrome, Pervasive Developmental Disorder, and Other ASDs©2004 by Chantal Sicile-Kira. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site.


stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Twitter icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks

get ready for school!

We’ve got your
shopping list,
lunch menu,
and more.

GO

highlights

Join BIC on our mission to save handwriting and Fight For Your Write! Writing helps kids become better readers, boosts their confidence and sparks their creativity. Visit BICFightForYourWrite.com to sign our petition to save handwriting!

7 Fun Driveway and Sidewalk Games for Kids
Looking for classic outdoor games kids can play in the driveway or on the sidewalk, just like the good ol' days? From hopscotch to bubble-blowing contests, there's something for all ages!

Kindergarten Readiness App Wins Gold
Our Kindergarten Readiness app won the Gold Award of Excellence in the educational category at the 2014 Communicator Awards. This valuable checklist comes with games and activities to help your child practice the essential skills she needs for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

Best Sun Safety Practices for Babies
Follow these sun safety practices for babies to ensure your little one stays safe on the beach and on sunny days all year long.