Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Peter Brown

The term ‘Autism Spectrum Disorders’ (more commonly referred to as ‘autism’) is an umbrella description which includes:

  • Autistic Disorder (sometimes called infantile autism or childhood autism)
  • Asperger’s Disorder
  • Atypical autism

Autism Spectrum Disorders are lifelong disabilities that affect the way a person communicates and relates to other people and the world around them. People affected by autism typically display major impairments in three areas:

  • Social interaction
  • Communication
  • Behaviour (restricted interests and repetitive behaviours)

These are commonly referred to as the Triad of Impairments. Many people with an Autism Spectrum Disorder also have sensory sensitivities, htat is, over or under sensitivity to sight, touch taste, smell, sound, temperature and pain.

As a result of their impairments, people with Autism Spectrum Disorders often experience overwhelming anxiety, frustration and confusion when faced with the demands of everyday life.

The majority of people with an Autistic Disorder also have an intellectual disability, whereas those with Asperger’s Disorder are typically of average or above-average intelligence, may have relatively intact communication skills, and have specific learning disabilities.

Although Austism Spectrum Disorders are almost always present at birth, they often do not become evident until the age of 2 or 3 (or 5 or 6 in the case of Asperger’s Disorder). Current international research puts the prevalence of Autism Spectrum Disorders at 65 per 10,000 population. Studies suggest that Autism Spectrum Disorders are about four times more prevalent in boys than in girls, according to the Autistic Association of NSW.

Where to start to get help:

  • Start with your family GP or a clinical psychologist who specialises in child mental health issues
  • You will probably be referred toa paediatrician or child psychiatrist for further assessment
  • Autism Qld

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