In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association merged four previously distinct diagnoses into one umbrella diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder (ASD). These included autistic disorder, childhood disintegrative disorder, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and Asperger syndrome.
Autism is one manifestation of the Pervasive Developmental Disorders (PDD), also known as Autism Spectrum Disorders, which include autism, Asperger Syndrome, Rett Syndrome, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder, Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS).
About one in 68 children in the United States has an ASD, according to the CDC, and boys are four times more likely to have autism than girls. An estimated 50,000 individuals transition from school age to adulthood every year.
Children with autism have difficulty with social interaction and communication, and are prone to repetitive, obsessive behaviors that can be mild or severe. Parents are usually the first to question if something is wrong, as children with autism have difficulty making friends, maintaining a conversation, or interacting with other kids.
Repetitive movements such as rocking or head banging are common, and many children with autism refer to themselves by name rather than saying, “I’ or “me.” Some children with autism are extremely sensitive to sound, touch, or other sensory stimulation; others have a reduced sensitivity to pain.
The symptoms and etiologies vary widely, making diagnosis complex and highly individualized.