According to the CDC about 1 in 68 children and over 3 million individuals total in the United States, and tens of millions worldwide, are estimated to have ASD. In addition, boys are 4 times more likely than girls to develop an ASD. Most cases appear to be caused by a combination of autism risk genes and environmental factors influencing early brain development.
While many people are familiar with autism, keep reading to learn more about the autism spectrum.
Autism spectrum disorder refers to a group of complex neurodevelopmental disorders in which persons with an ASD have restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior and difficulties with social communication and interaction. Signs may vary among individuals depending on the severity of the disorder, resulting in each person having a unique pattern of behavior.
The 4th edition of the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) recognizes autism, Asperger syndrome, childhood disintegrative disorder, and pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) as separate diagnoses. However in 2013, the DSM-V combined the aforementioned disorders under the umbrella diagnosis of ASD.
Aside for the clinical features previously mentioned, in order for a person to receive the ASD diagnosis, DSM-V also indicates these features must be present during the early developmental period. In some cases, features may not fully manifest until later in life or until social demands exceed an individual's capacity. Symptoms may cause significant impairment in occupational, psychological, and other areas of functioning, resulting in everyday activities being limited or hindered in some way.
To learn more about ASD, including diagnosis criteria, please see the resources below:
- Marcus Autism Center (NIH Autism Center of Excellence)
- Autism Society of America
- NIH-National Institute of Mental Health
- Autism Speaks