Autism Definition

The DSM-V defines Autism or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) as a complex neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by abnormalities in social communication and unusual behaviours and interests. An autism definition can include the concept of sameness. A child with autism is extremely fixated on sameness. They are rigid when it comes to routines and their routines should not be altered unless done so by the child. They have a type of obsession with keeping everything the same, they do not do well with change.

There are two specific domains of symptoms regarding the autism definition, namely: Deficits in communication and social skills and then the repetitive pattern of interests or certain behaviours. They struggle to relate to other people around them. They are unable to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and have difficulty reciprocating emotions.
They have certain delays in language development and thus with their lack of social skills and barriers to language, they lack communication skills. Many children with Autism engage in “echolalia” which is the repetition of a certain word or phrase without much meaning or context.

An Autism definition includes repetitive or restricted patterns of behaviour. These can be defined as stereotyped movements of the body such as hand flapping. There are main reason for the development of stereotyped behaviours. One being that children with Autism crave stimulation and these movements stimulate their nervous system. The other is that the environment might be too stimulating and thus they engage in these behaviours to block out or prevent the stimulation presented by the environment.

There is various therapies or treatments that can help reduce the symptoms of autism. By far the most effective educational or therapeutic treatment is Applied Behaviour Analysis (ABA), which is grounded in the principle that behaviours that are reinforced or praised will increase and behaviours that are punished or put on extinction (ignored) will decrease.

Therapies and treatment focus on challenging the disruptive behaviour that accompanies an autism definition and attempts to teach appropriate behaviours to replace the unwanted behaviours. Early intervention is key with an autism definition. The sooner treatments are implemented, the better your chances are to relieve an autism diagnosis and just be perceived to have symptoms of autism and not be diagnosed with autism.

– Magriet Kleynhans

References:

• Liza Little (2002) MIDDLE-CLASS MOTHERS’ PERCEPTIONS OF PEER AND SIBLING VICTIMIZATION AMONG CHILDREN WITH ASPERGER’S SYNDROME AND NONVERBAL LEARNING DISORDERS, Issues in Comprehensive Pediatric Nursing, 25:1, 43-57, DOI: 10.1080/014608602753504847

• Mash, E. and Wolfe, D. (n.d.). Abnormal child psychology. 6th ed.

• Ozonoff, S., South, M., & Miller, J. N. (2000). DSM-IV-Defined Asperger Syndrome: Cognitive, Behavioral and Early History Differentiation from High-Functioning Autism. Autism, 4(1), 29–46. https://doi.org/10.1177/1362361300041003

• Szatmari, P. (2000). Syndrome. The American Journal of Psychiatry.

• V. M. Bishop (1989) Autism, Asperger’s syndrome and semantic-pragmatic disorder: Where are the boundaries?, British Journal of Disorders of Communication, 24:2, 107-121, DOI: 10.3109/13682828909011951