WHAT IS AUTISM?
Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) are both general terms used interchangeably to describe a group of complex disorders of brain development. With the new publication of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 5 (DSM-5), all autism difficulties/ disorders were combined under one umbrella diagnosis of ASD. This is in contrary to the previous edition to the diagnostic manual that recognises distinct subtypes of disorders including autistic disorder, Asperger syndrome, pervasive developmental disorder-not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS) and childhood disintegrative disorder.
Autism is a lifelong development difficulty that affects how an individual relates, communicates and interacts with other people as well as how they perceive the world around them. In essence, they face deficits in social communication/ interaction and have restricted, repetitive patterns of behaviour or interests. It is a spectrum disorder in which their symptoms and severity vary widely across the core characteristic symptoms. This means, while all individuals with autism share certain similar difficulties, these symptoms affect their lives differently. No two individuals with autism share similar degree of difficulties.
According to the autism statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as of 2014, 1 out of 68 children have been identified as on the spectrum. It is identified that autism is three to four times more common in boys (1 out of 42) than girls (1 out of 189). However, girls tend to possess more severe symptoms and lower intelligence.