The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, which is revised regularly, provides standardised criteria for diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders.
A diagnosis of autism requires impairments in all three symptom areas, but not all symptoms in each area. High-functioning autism, also called Asperger’s disorder, does not involve serious language delay.
1. Marked impairment in the use of multiple non-verbal behaviour, such as eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures and gestures, that are normally present in social interaction.
2. Failure to develop peer relationships appropriate to developmental level.
3. A lack of spontaneous desire to share enjoyment, interests or achievements with other people.
4. Lack of social and emotional reciprocity.
1. Delay in, or total lack of, the development of spoken language, without an attempt to communicate through other means such as gesture or mime.
2. In individuals with adequate speech, marked impairment in the ability to initiate or sustain a conversation with others.
3. Stereotyped, idiosyncratic or repetitive uses of language that are not directly relevant to the social context.
4. Lack of varied, spontaneous make-believe play or social imitative play appropriate to developmental level.
1. Preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that is abnormal either in intensity or focus.
2. Apparently inflexible adherence to specific, non-functional routines or rituals.
3. Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms, such as hand or finger flapping or twisting, or complex whole-body movements.
4. Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects.
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