Autism Overview


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a general term for a group of complex conditions of brain development. These conditions are characterized, in varying degrees, by difficulties in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication and repetitive behaviors. With the May 2013 publication of the DSM-5 diagnostic manual, all autism disorders were merged into one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. Previously, they were recognized as distinct subtypes, including autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.  Each individual with autism is unique. Many of those on the autism spectrum have exceptional abilities in visual skills, music and academic skills.

Some considerations:

  • Frequent errors in interpreting others’ body language. Intentions or facial expressions
  • Difficulty understanding the motives and perceptions of others
  • Problems asking for help
  • Motor clumsiness, unusual body movements and/or obsessive-compulsive routines
  • Difficulty with the big picture, perseverate on the details
  • Difficulties with transitions and changes in schedule
  • Problems with organization
  • Unusual sensitivity to touch, sounds, and visual details, may experience sensory overload
  • Difficulty in initiating and sustaining connected relationships
  • Poor or unusual eye contact
  • Problems understanding social rules