Autism, also known as Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), is a neurological condition that affects a person’s social skills, communication, and behavior. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), approximately 1 in 54 children in the United States have been diagnosed with ASD. However, the symptoms of autism are not the same for every individual and may vary in severity. This guide explores the many faces of autism symptoms.
One of the most common symptoms of autism is difficulties in social skills. Individuals with autism may have trouble with eye contact, initiating conversation, interpreting facial expressions, and engaging in back-and-forth communication. Some may also struggle with making and maintaining friendships.
Autistic people display repetitive behaviors, they may perform the same actions or activities repeatedly, like flapping their hands, pacing, or spinning objects around. They may also become fixated on certain things or interests, and have difficulty transitioning from one activity to another. They often have sensory sensitivities and avoid specific textures, loud noises, or bright lights.
Communication is another area where people with autism may struggle. They may have difficulty understanding nonverbal cues, like tone of voice, facial expressions, and body language. Some may also have trouble communicating their needs and expressing themselves, which can lead to frustration and emotional outbursts.
Autistic people may have trouble with executive function skills, like planning, organizing, and prioritizing tasks. They may also have difficulty with abstract thinking and understanding concepts that aren’t concrete. They often have a hard time with reading comprehension or solving math problems.
Diagnostic Criteria for Autism
To be diagnosed with autism, a person must meet certain diagnostic criteria, which includes exhibiting persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts. They must also show restrictive, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities.
The diagnostic criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder DSM-5 includes:
– Persistent deficits in social communication and social interactions
– Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities
– Symptoms must be present in early childhood, although they may not become fully manifest until later
– Symptoms must cause significant impairment in function
– Symptoms are not better explained by another condition
While ASD has a common set of diagnostic criteria, the symptoms of autism can manifest themselves differently from person to person, making it difficult to diagnose and understand. The many faces of autism symptoms create unique challenges for autistic individuals and those who care for them. However, identifying early signs and getting early intervention can help individuals with autism improve their social skills, communication, and behavior, leading to a more fulfilling life. A better understanding of the symptoms of autism can help educators, families, and therapists provide the necessary support and accommodations to help those with autism thrive.