What is it?Characterised by difficulties in social interaction, impairedcommunication, restricted and repetitive interests andbehaviours and sensory sensitivities.Spectrum – range and severity of the difficulties varyIncludes autistic disorder, Asperger’s disorder andpervasive developmental disorder.1 in 160 Australians have ASD and is more prevalent in boysthan girls
Social InteractionLimited use and understanding of non-verbalcommunication such as eye gaze, facial expression andgestureDifficulties forming and sustaining friendshipsLack of seeking to share enjoyment, interest and activitieswith other peopleDifficulties with social and emotional responsiveness
CommunicationDelayed language developmentDifficulties initiating and sustaining conversationsStereotyped and repetitive use of language such asrepeating phrases from televisionLimited imaginative or make-believe play
Restricted and repetitive interests, activities and behavioursUnusually intense or focused interestsStereotyped and repetitive body movements such as handflapping and spinningRepetitive use of objects such as repeatedly flicking a doll’seyes or lining up toysAdherence to non-functional routines such as insisting ontravelling the same route home each day
Different types of ASDAutistic Disorder – impairments in social interaction andcommunication as well as restricted and repetitive interests,activities and behaviours evident prior to three years of ageAsperger’s disorder – No significant delay in early languageacquisition, cognitive abilities or self help skills. Often detectedlater than autistic disorderPervasive Developmental Disorder – a marked socialimpairment, but fails to meet full criteria for either autisticdisorder or Asperger’s.
DiagnosisObservations and meetings with the individual and familyto gather information through standardised tests orquestionnaires.No single behaviour indicates ASD Early indicators No babbling or pointing by age 1 No single words by 16 mon No response to name Loss of language or social skills Poor eye contact Excessive lining up of toys or objects
CausesNo single known cause, but recent research has identifiedstrong genetic links.Identical twin studies show that if one twin is affected,there is a 90 percent chance the other twin will be affected.