Clarification On Autistic Spectrum Disorders

The NAS Autism Helpline is regularly sought by parents having a hard time understanding their child's diagnosis. Many parents already know what 'symptoms of autism' and 'autistic spectrum disorder' mean. Issues result from various findings that give vague relationships to the autistic spectrum. I will make a clarification regarding this really a puzzling situation about the symptoms of autism.

Clarifying the issue is vital, because in case other conditions arise, or when somebody suffers from autistic spectrum disorder, this can be the key to determining what the person needs. Giving the concerned person the appropriate services and assistance is important to help him have a quality life. Proper diagnosis and right assistance also lessen the burden to the person's family.

Autistic Spectrum Disorders Terminologies

Autistic Spectrum Disorders

Typically refers to the entire variety of conditions characterized by a triad of social disorders: relations, communication and imagination. A recurring behavioral pattern is associated with this triad. The most vital part of the triad is the social relations disorder. Persons who have this kind of disorder can be counted in the spectrum. This is specifically important for children or adults who had their diagnosis much later. It is possible that these persons have already learned to deal with their communication and imagination impairments. However, the social relations disability may still be seen, although not so evident.

Prevalent Developmental Disorders

This is widely used in the 10th edition (ICD-10) of the International Classification of Diseases, as well as in the 4th edition (DSM-IV) of the American Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to define the same variety as the autistic spectrum disorders.

Children's Autism (ICD-10)

It is used to define a person whose behavior suits the entire picture of the usual kind of autism. Autistic Disorder (DSM-IV) A condition just like the children's autism. Atypical Autism (ICD-10) Used to define a person whose behavior suits many, but not all, of the usual autism criteria. Prevalent developmental disorder not mentioned (PDD-NOS) This can be more or less similar to the atypical autism. Asperger Disorder (DSM-IV) Or Asperger Syndrome (ICD-10) In a more concise explanation, this refers to persons who are capable of better communication but only use their good grammatical grasp to convey personal interests. Sometimes, terms are being used for specific disability and/or behavior patterns of persons with autistic spectrum disorders. Some experts in the field have chosen specific labels on disabilities and/or behaviors normally observed in some persons with the said disorder, and have considered these labels as different syndromes. Conflicts regarding these different syndromes have risen, whether they can arise by themselves without the disorders in social communication and social imagination that are signs of the autistic spectrum disorder. As shared by many associates, my own opinion is that these syndromes are fragments of the autistic spectrum, particularly when they are shown after taking a developmental history.

Non-Verbal Learning Disorder (NVLD)

A research on condition's criteria reveals that it refers to persons having Asperger syndrome's social behavior patterns. These persons also have issues with non-verbal arithmetic cues and some visuo-spatial cues. Dr. Asperger counted in the same people in his explanations, though he also included persons having social issues, but have good command in numbers as well as visuo-spatial skills.

Right Hemisphere Learning Disorder

This is similar to the non-verbal learning disorder. The non-verbal learning issues explained above are typically found in the brain's right hemisphere.

Semantic-Pragmatic Disorder

This is characterized by good grammatical command but absence of the ability to use this for socially-acceptable ways. This behavior is seen on persons described by Asperger.

Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA)

This is escaping the everyday work. This is also characterized by socially-unaccepted, controlling and sometimes aggressive character.
Development problems not included in the autistic spectrum but typically arise with an autistic spectrum tendency:

These developmental issues may happen by themselves, given that the person concerned, child or adult, doesn't hold the disorder triad. The impairments mentioned below, however, usually happen as part of the sign of autistic spectrum disorder.

One of the usual errors done by clinical practitioners with insufficient experience in autism is to examine a person's incompetence, reading problems or short attention span and to identify these disorders as the major problems. They overlook the truth that under the evident issues seen outside is an autistic spectrum disorder that goes with social disabilities.
It is of high importance that the said disorder is diagnosed, and the right assistance and services given.

Attention Deficit Or Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)
This is characterized by very short attention span that goes with being overactive.
Hyperkinetic Disorder
Being overly active, but with good attention span.
Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)
This is characterized by a very short attention range but without hyperactivity.
Tourette's syndrome
This is a condition wherein a person experiences a lot of abrupt, uncontrollable and awkward movements, as well as involuntary vocal blasts.
Having reading difficulty.
A condition characterized by problems with coordinating movements.
Developmental Coordination Disorder
This is similar to dyspraxia.
Motor Coordination Disorder
Also similar to dyspraxia.

Problems with attention, motor coordination and perception (DAMP)

This term is used when the person holds a combination of these disorders. For instance, the problem on perception may be dyslexia.

This is a physical condition associated with autism and affects the brain.

Some conditions like this one can happen as triggered by autistic spectrum disorders. Here are some of the instances:

  • Tuberous Sclerosis
  • Fragile X
  • Rett's Syndrome
  • Encephalitis caused by damage in the brain.

In case that a child or an adult is observed having any one of these conditions with an autistic spectrum disorder, the right physical treatment is highly recommended.

Each autistic spectrum disorder needs specific cure, guidance and other assistance since each disorder occurs on its own.

Terminologies used by the International Classification System being applied to atypical behavior:

Conduct Disorder
A disobedient behavior.

These terms are very useful. They are just names for the behavior but do not indicate the hidden cause.

A child or an adult having an autistic spectrum disorder can be possible given one of the diagnoses in case an appropriate examination is not taken, as well as when the right psychological examinations are not done.

In case that this occurs, the necessities of the child or adult, as well as their family are probably mistaken, resulting in other difficulties.

Suggestion For Parents

When parents have received one or more of the tough behavior terms mentioned above, but perceive that their child has the tendency to have an autistic spectrum disorder, the first thing to do is to consult the expert who has done the diagnosis.

If the expert further suggests that symptoms of autism in all forms are absent, then the parents must ask to be recommended by a doctor whose expertise is in the field of autistic spectrum disorders.