Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) is a complex neurological and developmental condition that usually appears during the first three years of life. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and vary with each individual. For instance, some children may rarely use words to communicate, while others may hold extensive conversations and use rich language. Some children may not like to be hugged or touched, while others seek out and enjoy physical touch.
ASD can express itself in different ways, but it is characterized by difficulties with social communication and unusual or repetitive interests and behaviors. Children with mild ASD can have a hard time learning social skills that come easily to other children, such as making eye contact, having back-and-forth conversations, coordinating language with nonverbal communication, or learning through social imitation. Children with severe ASD seem to inhabit their own world — a world that can sometimes seem closed off to relatives and friends.
Autism spectrum disorders currently go by many names – autism, Autistic Disorder, Asperger Syndrome, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDDNOS). In May 2013, the term "Autism Spectrum Disorder" will be adopted by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th edition (DSM-5), to replace all these names. This reflects the substantial research concluding that all autism spectrum disorders are characterized by marked deficiencies in social interaction and communication, and various behavioral issues, though their individual presentations may vary. Visit autismMatch to learn more about this new change.