The DSM 5 Defines Autism
- Persistent deficit in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following:
- Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, from abnormal social approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.
- Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of gestures
- Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.
- Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at least two of the following:
- Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (simple motor stereotypes, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic phrases).
- Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns or verbal nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or eat food every day).
- Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interest).
- Hyper- or hypo reactivity to sensory input or unusual interests in sensory aspects of the environment (apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects, visual fascination with lights or movement).
In March of 2014, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their autism prevalence report. The report included that the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States. This is nearly twice as great as the 2004 rate of 1 in 125.
According to the Autism Society of America, there is no known single cause for autism spectrum disorder, but it is generally accepted that is caused by abnormalities in brain structure or function. Brain scans show differences in the shape and structure of the brain in children with autism compared to neurotypical children. Researchers are investigating a number of theories, including links among heredity, genetics and medical problems.