ASD is one of several pervasive developmental disorders and is characterised by severe impairment of communication and social interaction. The child must have persistent deficits in:
- problems with social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts
- restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour, interest or activities.
Symptoms must also be present in from early development and cause a clinically significant impairment in social, occupational or other important areas of functioning. Further symptoms are also not able to be better explained by intellectual disability or global developmental delay (DSM-5, 2013).
Symptoms can range from mild to severe and individuals can be placed somewhere on a spectrum of symptomatic autistic behaviours. Some individuals with milder forms of Autism such as Asperger’s Syndrome, function at a normal to above normal cognitive level and can learn successfully. They may have difficulties making and retaining friendships due to poor social skills.
Assessment and diagnosis of Autism is formulated from clinical observations, family/teacher interviews as well as the use of psychological and diagnostic testing.