What is the definition of autism?

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There is no single person who has experienced autism.

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The most precise definition of autism is that it is often referred to clinically by the name of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a unique mental state of mind as well as a neurological variation that alters how you perceive the world and the people who are around you.

In simple terms, autism changes how you view, experience and comprehend the world around you.

What is the autism spectrum?

You may have heard of people refer to autism as”a spectrum”. It simply implies that there are several ways that autism may manifest.

The people with autism have a lot of common characteristics, there is many distinctions between them, and what it is like to live with an autism differs significantly from one person to the next.

The Dr. Stephen Shore an autistic professor of special education at Adelphi University, New York said it the best way: he stated:

“If you have met one person with autism, you have met one person with autism.”

The spectrum of possibilities can be vast from those who have severe cognitive impairments and who have no or limited speech to people that have developed a variety of functional abilities to help their daily life.

The main strengths that have been identified in individuals who are on the autism spectrum include:

  • being detail oriented;
  • identifying any irregularities;
  • Being a logical thinker
  • staying focused on the task at hand;
  • looking at things from a different viewpoint.

If you’re on the autism spectrum, you’ll usually appreciate regularity and predictability. You may also be focusing on a particular field of interest or following a certain interest. This could mean that those who are on the spectrum are extremely accomplished in their chosen fields.

There are certain difficulties that those with autism face These can be:

  • issues in communicating their needs and wants;
  • social interaction and the interpretation of the behavior of other people;
  • processing sensory information processing sensory information
  • processing of cognitive information.

All people across the spectrum are able to acquire skills, but the manner of how they acquire skills, the rate at that they acquire skills and the way they build capabilities, will vary from person to person.

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What are the symptoms and signs of autism?

The signs, developmental differences and signs of autism differ in their intensity and in the nature of autism from person to person. They may also change, develop and grow over time.

Gender, age and cognitive capacity can affect how the symptoms or signs of autism appear in different individuals, which is something to be taken into consideration.

Although a large portion of the diagnostic process is based on behaviour, it can be difficult to determine the diagnosis of autism until 18 and 20 months old. For some, the symptoms of autism may not be evident until the school years or when adult the demands are too high.

However, if you believe like either you or your kid or someone else you care about may be on the spectrum of autism it is possible to begin the process of diagnosing.

Since autism has a wide range of symptoms, it is difficult to determine whether a person is autistic. To help you understand the signs and signs, below is a list of the signs to look for, in accordance with the most current criteria for diagnosing autism, the DSM-5.

Signs in developmental period

  • To be considered to be autistic signs must have been present during the initial stage of development of a child’s life. It can be challenging to identify the indicators and traits of autism for a lot of parents as they are the child is being raised in a way which is completely new to the majority of people. Parents who already have children diagnosed as having autism, they could have a better understanding of symptoms of autism and notice these early. For parents who have a child older than them who is usually growing, they might be able to recognize the signs of autism earlier since they already have a child to compare their progress with. 

  • For most adults, they may not be aware of the traits or signs of autism as they relate to their own behavior later in the course of their lives. As they look back to their lives, they might begin to see the ways that autism might have affected their lives at various times like when they realized that other people were able to discern what other were thinking, when they found it difficult to comprehend people’s feelings. A large number of adults who have autism have developed strategies to deal with their issues throughout their lives. Therefore, it is important to consider what symptoms or signs were evident in the early years of trying to diagnose in adulthood. 

To be identified as having Autism Spectrum Disorder, an individual is not required to show problems in every area, however they must satisfy an exact set of criteria over two areas. It is crucial to remember that this is only brief summary of the issue and only certified qualified, certified professionals are able to make an Autism diagnosis.

A: Social Communication and social interaction

The challenges or differences that arise from social and language communication as well as social interactions across different settings, either currently or in the past. This includes difficulties or differences in:

  • Personal and social exchanges as well as emotional communication.
  • Non-verbal communication techniques are used to facilitate social interaction.
  • Establishing, maintaining and building relationships.

B: Regular, or restricted behaviors, interests, or activities

Patterns of repetitive, restrained behavior, interests or other activities that involve at minimum at least two categories:

  • Motor movements that are repetitive, the use of objects or speech.
  • The insistence that things remain the same, rigid as well as insistent on routine or routineised patterns of verbal and non-verbal behavior.
  • Extremely restricted, fixed interests that are incredibly concentrated or focused.
  • Extremely reactive or not responsive at any time to sensory input or having an unusual fascination with sensorial aspects of the environment.

The impact of autism’s functional aspects on an individual

For certain people, autism may affect all aspects of their lives in a significant way, whereas for others , it may affect specific aspects of life to less of an extent. Due to this, autism is often referred to as an “spectrum” and diagnosed based on the signs and characteristics as well as the effect these different characteristics can impact a person’s life as they age.

If the characteristics or signs displayed by a person pose significant difficulties in the personal, social family, work or other crucial areas of an individual’s life, it is probable that the individual will be classified as being autistic or on the spectrum of autism.

If the signs and symptoms do not have a significant impact on the person’s relationships or life and they’re capable of functioning in every social and interpersonal setting and settings, it’s unlikely that they is diagnosed.

The exact behaviors that meet the above-mentioned criteria and the extent in which they affect everyday life vary between people and are affected by various factors, including age, education and the availability of aids. Because of this in the individual, the DSM5 gives severity levels ranging from 1 up to 3, for both domains,. These levels indicate the extent to which the behaviors they describe interfere with the person’s everyday life and require support.

Note: It is crucial to be aware this severity level represent an indicator of the condition in the moment of the initial diagnosis. They can change over time as abilities develop or demands evolve.

These three levels, along with the characteristics and needs for support which determine them, are listed within the DSM-5 as follows:

  • First Level “Requiring support”
  • 2 “Requiring substantial support”
  • Level 3: “Requiring very substantial support”

Although Asperger syndrome as well as pervasive development disorder that are not otherwise identified (PDD-NOS) are not considered to be distinct disorder under currently accepted diagnostic guidelines (DSM-5) However, those who has a diagnosis that was previously in place using the earlier diagnoses (DSM 4) may still be able to apply the diagnosis.

What is Asperger’s Syndrome?

In 1994, Asperger’s Syndrome appeared as an individual manifestation of a common developmental disorder in diagnostic manuals that are standard, often referred to as being a “milder type” of autism.

The main features of Asperger syndrome that were identified at the time included:

  • Problems with social interaction and social interaction
  • Repetitive and restricted behaviors
  • No intellectual disability
  • There is no delay in speech development

But, the notion that Asperger’s syndrome is less severe than autism has proved to be problematic since it suggests that Asperger’s sufferers are “less challenging” than living with autism.

The diagnosis criteria for autism was changed following the publication of the most recent diagnosis manual (the DSM 5).

Since then “Autistic Disorder” and “Asperger’s syndrome” are not anymore distinguished as distinct manifestations of pervasive developmental disorders they are now part of the one diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) also known as autism or autism spectrum.

Self-confidence and confidence

Although being diagnosed with autism can cause many issues in a person’s daily life and those who are around them, those with autism can also accomplish incredible things for themselves, their communities and for the entire world.

For certain people, the diagnosis of autism may boost their self-esteem and enhance their awareness of what makes them special Autism becomes an integral aspect in their personal identity.

Many of the most successful people from our community are autistic. Many notable discoveries, advances as well as achievements were accomplished by autistic people, as well. Without the neurodiversity within our society, we would certainly not have taken some of our most profound understandings of our society, culture communities, and the larger world.

The neurodiversity movement

A movement is growing momentum across the globe with a focus on those with autism and those who are proud of their neurologic differences.

The term was invented in the early 1900s by the Australian Sociologist Judy Singer who recognised that “neurologically diverse (people) needed a movement of their own” and that voicing “differences in neurology should be recognised and respected.”

John Robison, a highly accomplished writer and philosopher, is a fervent supporter of the neurodiversity movement along with a host of prominent autistic people, academics and people who advocate of the change.

Robison’s autism experience and his perspective on neurodiversity is detailed in a blog he wrote in Psychology Today.

“To me, neurodiversity is the idea that neurological differences like autism and ADHD are the result of normal, natural variation in the human genome,” he explained.

“This represents a new and fundamentally different way of looking at conditions that were traditionally pathologized; it’s a viewpoint that is not universally accepted though it is increasingly supported by science.”

What is the incidence of autism?

The exact incidence of Autism in Australia and around the world is not known.

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) has reported the number of 205,200 Australians who had autism in 2018 approximately 1percent of the total population or 1 out of 100.

Globally, this rate is highly variable by a factor of 1 in every 59 residents in the USA to the typical rate all across Asia, Europe, and North America is between 1 and 2 percent.

Statisticians also indicate that:

  • The amount of Australians diagnosed with autism grew by 42 percent between 2012 and 2015;
  • Three out of four individuals diagnosed as autistic are young people who are between the ages of 5 and 24 yearsold; and
  • 2 out of the 4 Australians identified with autism is females.

Although the level of autism is different around the globe however, there has been an rise in the number of individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum in recent times however, this doesn’t mean it is more people with autism on the planet than they were just a few years ago.

The evidence suggests that the rise is due to several factors both clinical and cultural which include social factors that drive an increased awareness of autism as well as improved diagnostic procedures, and adjustments to the diagnostic criteria, allowing more people to receive an assessment.

As per Professor Whitehouse of the Australian Autism CRC Research shows the bulk of the rise in the prevalence of autism over the last decade resulted from an increased number of the diagnosis of children who display milder behaviors.

“We are now aware that this condition is a manifestation of the spectrum. It is essential that we all be aware of the wide range of symptoms and the immense strengths that individuals from all spectrums contribute to our society,” Professor Whitehouse said.

Autism in australia

Autism is a soleological distinction and a distinct method of thinking. The term ‘ spectrum’ reflects the diversity of individuals with autism and the ways in which they manifest. There isn’t a singular cause for autism. This article provides an overview of the spectrum of autism in Australia at the time of publication.


  • Heylens, G., Aspeslagh, L., Dierickx, J. et al. J Autism Dev Disord (2018) 48: 2217.
  • Disability, Ageing and Carers, Australia: Summary of Findings (2015) ABS.
  • Australian National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing (2007) ABS.
  • DSM-5

What is the story behind autism?

The concept about the diagnosis of autism has evolved over the course of a long period. Although the term “autism” was coined by Kanner in the early 1900s, there is evidence that other experts such as Grunya Efimovna Sukhareva as well as Paul Bleuler, had recognised the distinctive manifestation of signs and symptoms before this. Since the 1940’s, the diagnostic criteria have changed and evolved as we gain more knowledge, but today, autism is broadly recognized as a variety of conditions with varying degrees of impairment.


Leo Kanner a child psychiatrist in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, USA He wrote an important article that described 11 children at his clinic that did not possess the social instinct of orienting towards others. 

The children were most focused the objects, and a need for consistency and an “resistance to unexpected change”. To identify this new mental illness, Kanner coined the term “infantile autism”. 

The term autism is derived in the Greek word “autos,” which means “self.”


A Year later Hans Asperger a paediatrician who was working at the University of Vienna in Austria wrote an article about the children at his clinic with some of the same characteristics however, they were on a different range that Kanner’s descriptions. 

Asperger had already created an educational program for the children which was designed to suit their different brains, and played with their strengths, rather than focussing on their weaknesses. 

The patients of Asperger’s group were varied with a range of children, from one who was silent to a child who was well-read even to the point of being a twit as well as the boy who shook his hands repeatedly or the kid who was obsessed with collecting details about Astronomy. 

Asperger invented a term to describe the disorders called autistic psychopathy. He frequently referred to people with Asperger’s disease as “little professors”. 

However, his discoveries were made under in the Nazi administration during the Nazi regime in Austria and for more than forty years, his work was untranslated, and his discoveries almost unrecorded.


Lorna Wing a child psychiatrist from London’s Institute of Psychiatry in London published (for the first time in English) an article that spoke of autism being a spectrum that included Asperger’s syndrome in honor of Hans Asperger’s work.


Asperger disorder was the first identified among children in South Australia by Autism SA.


Asperger condition was the first listed in the DSM-4 (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition) released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). 

Other diagnoses that fall under the Pervasive Developmental Disorder umbrella comprised Autistic Disorder, PDD-NOS, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder and Asperger’s Disorder.


Lorna Wing created the term Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to refer to a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, including Asperger’s syndrome and autism. 

Children who are diagnosed with ASD must have met the criteria for difficulty in communicating as well as social interaction, and also limited and repetitive patterns of behavior and interests, or even activities. 

The diagnosis is based on the presence of these traits in the early years of childhood and at a degree that restricted or impaired the daily activities.


The publication of the revised DSM-5 manual redefined the term Autism Spectrum Disorder so that it can include the earlier diagnoses of autism, asperger syndrome, and pervasive development disorder that is not explicitly defined (PDD-NOS). 

The new definition does not include the concept of communication in a distinct criteria however it incorporates it into the two other areas. 

The diagnosis is based by determining whether the individual meets the criteria required in two domains: social communication and social interaction, as well as restricted and repetitive behavior. If a person was diagnosed before with Asperger syndrome the condition is generally kept in mind.

What is the cause of autism?

A lot of research is conducted across the globe to discover what causes autism and while research has suggested several possible causes and connections, the root causes of autism are mostly unexplored.

Although research into how autism causes are continually developing, we believe that there’s not a single reason for autism, rather it is a heterogeneous condition, which means there are many reasons for autism. 

The research has also shown that there could be several contributory factors to the neurological issues we know as autism or the spectrum.


Researchers have discovered a variety of genes that may contribute to the growth of autism. This leads to the belief that autism could be several different disorders with similar characteristics and signs of behavioural.

Research has proven that for the autism spectrum There are genetic differences over a variety of genes, or particular genes that lead to neurological disorders, meaning that autistic people have characteristics.

The study of genetics in the family and the incidence in autism has proven this to be true and has shown that if there’s one individual in the family that is diagnosed as having autism, it may increase the chances that other people in the family may also be diagnosed with autism with the following frequency:

  • Aunts Uncles, cousins, aunts (2-3 percent)
  • Siblings and twins that are not identical (10 percent)
  • The identical twins are 80% when one is recognized

For certain groups of those who suffer from autism, it is believed that the genes pass to their families in a direct manner and for others, the genetic mutations that are passed on can result in neurological disorders that cause autism. However, for some individuals , there may be genetic variations which haven’t been passed on, but rather have been created during the development of the fetus.

There are a lot of autistic individuals, there are evident genetic differences that have been shown to be responsible for their neurologic differences, whereas for the majority of those diagnosed with autism , there appear to be no genetic variation.

This means that, while genetics may be the main cause of certain types of autism, they’re not the only reason for everyone’s autism.

Other factors that could be contributing to the development of neurological disorders that are currently being investigated for their potential to influence the development of neurological functions are:

  • Low birth weight and premature birth
  • The paternal age of the father is advanced at the conception, especially for males
  • Long-term, Vitamin D deficiencies in utero
  • Increased testosterone during utero development

Research has found that each person with autism is different from one another, further confirming the idea the spectrum that is autism. illnesses. The areas of research that researchers are investigating include:

  • Over-connectivity and under-connectivity. Some people with autism might have low connectivity in long-range connections however, they may have over-connectivity on short-range connections.
  • Head circumference An extensive review of meta-analyses and systematic reviews carried out in 2016 revealed that the head circumference was significantly greater for autistic individuals compared to non-autistic people’.

Although there has been a variety of studies conducted in these areas, more study is required.

The truth about autism as well as the most common misconceptions about autism

Have you noticed that your well-meaning family and friends, media commentators, and even health professionals have you becoming more worried as well as confused regarding your or your child’s autism , or suspected autism?

Incorrect information and confusing messages can create feeling of shame and loneliness and could hinder proactive treatment and support program. While the perception of autism continuously changing, here are a few of the more commonly accepted facts to help get some of these myths regarding autism to rest.

What is the cause of autism?

It is normal to want to understand what causes autism but it’s likely that there isn’t one sole reason. Although genetic factors are believed to cause certain forms that are associated with autism, causes behind autism remain largely undiscovered.

We recognize that autism can be a neurological disorder in that the brain process information differently for people who have autism in contrast to those who don’t have autism.

It is also known that parental methods do not lead to a child developing autism.

Autism is not caused by vaccinations during or before pregnancy, and the falsely-reported link between the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) immunisation and autism has been retracted from the paper it was published in, and completely discredited by the research, scientific and medical community.

What are the criteria for diagnosing autism?

Fortunately, the way in which autism is identified has improved and changed in the past 80 years.

We can now recognize a wider spectrum of symptoms and signs that are part of the spectrum of autism.

As the awareness of autism increases both professionals and parents are becoming more adept in recognizing warning signs that indicate autism, and tend to obtain an assessment for autism.

This is why people think autism is more commonplace today than it was just ten or twenty years ago.

Do those with autism have the same appearance and behavior?

Autism sufferers are part of humanity’s diversity which means that no person is exactly the same as anyone else.

Studies conducted as early in the 1940s showed that autism can be described as an array of behavior and capabilities.

Autism sufferers are challenged in social communication and interaction . They may behave in a limited and repetitive way , however the manner in which they are communicated varies greatly.

Are those with autism intellectually or physically disabled?

Autism-related people don’t look any different from others and are generally physically fit.

Autism isn’t an intellectual disorder, but certain people who have autism might be diagnosed with an intellectual impairment.

Do people with autism talk?

Everyone communicates. A lot of people with autism communicate with speech. For certain people, the way speech sounds can differ, for example the use of a monotone and formal languages or using an accent. For some, speech could be delayed or are not able to develop. It is crucial to find methods to convey their desires to others who are around them.

Certain people utilize alternative communication methods like pictures exchange, sign language systems or assistive technology in order to connect with others in their surroundings.

Do people with autism experience emotions?

People with autism experience exactly the same feelings as family members, parents or friends They may struggle to express emotions at times or even communicate and feel their emotions differently.

There are people who be loud or shout when they are upset, but it is typically an emotional response or last resort when there is a problem in communicating.

It is normal for those who suffer from autism to have trouble comprehending and understanding the emotions of others. However, they can form close bonds with individuals in their lives, like their parents and children just like everybody else.

For some , standard methods of showing affection could be more difficult, like keeping eyes on the same page and making physical contact.

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