Autistic spectrum disorder → Pervasive developmental disorder

Autism is a developmental disorder. It usually appears in the first few years (1.5- 3 years) of life. It affects the normal developmental, social and communicative skills of the Individual.

The exact causation of Autism remains unknown. Lot of research is underway to determine the exact causative factor. There are probably combination of factors which together could cause Autism.

Genetic factors seem to be important. For example, identical twins are much more likely than fraternal twins or siblings to both have Autism. Similarly, language abnormalities are more common in relatives of autistic children. Chromosomal abnormalities and other nervous system (neurological) problems are also more common in families with Autism.

A number of other possible causes have been suspected, but not proven. They involve:

  • Diet (Glutin excess)
  • Digestive tract changes
  • Mercury poisoning
  • The body's inability to properly use vitamins and minerals
  • Vaccine sensitivity

Other developmental disorders include:
  • Asperger syndrome (Similar to Autism, with normal language development)
  • Rett syndrome (Different from Autism, and almost always occurs in females)
  • Childhood disintegrative disorder (regression of all the skills acquired by the child in his formative age.)
  • Pervasive developmental disorder - not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), also called atypical Autism

Usually the Symptoms of Autism are reported by the guardians of the child by the age of 1.5 -2 years.

Such children typically have difficulties in:
  • Pretend play (Mimicking parents movements)
  • Social interactions (They are indifferent towards surroundings)
  • Verbal and nonverbal communication

Most children with Autism appear normal before age 1 or 2 and then suddenly "regress" and lose language or social skills they had previously gained.

People with Autism may:
  • Be overly sensitive to external impression like sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste.
  • They can't adapt to changes in their routine
  • They perform repeated body movements
  • They have unusual attachments to objects

Communication problems may include:
  • Cannot talk or initiate conversation
  • Communicates with gestures
  • Does not adjust gaze to look at objects that others are looking at.
  • Language Development is very poor.
  • Repeats words or memorized passages, such as commercials

Social interaction:
  • May treat others as if they are objects
  • Prefers to spend time alone, rather than with others
  • Can’t make friends.
  • Is indifferent
  • May not respond to eye contact or smiles, or may avoid eye contact

Response to sensory information:
  • Has heightened or low senses of sight, hearing, touch, smell, or taste
  • May withdraw from physical contact because it is over stimulating or overwhelming
  • Rubs surfaces, mouths or licks objects
  • Seems to have a heightened or low response to pain

  • Doesn't mimic
  • Prefers solitary play
  • Shows little pretend or imaginative play

  • Alternative behavior(overactive with being passive)
  • Intense tantrums
  • Gets stuck on a single topic or task (perseveration)
  • Poor attention span
  • Occasional aggressive to others or self
  • Uses repetitive body movements