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"autism can't define me, i define autism"

By: Hitendra H. Shah, M.D.





2. Asperger Syndrome
Often confused with high-functioning autism, Asperger Syndrome results in similar symptoms, but without the delays in language or the possibility of mental retardation seen in autism. Children with Asperger Syndrome often have impressive vocabularies and sharp cognitive skills, but display serious difficulties with social interaction. They may have an obsessive interest in a particular topic and become preoccupied with repetitive routines or behaviors. In addition, many children with Asperger Syndrome have a history of developmental delays in motor skills and display poor physical coordination.


3. Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS)
Also known as "atypical autism," PDD-NOS is a diagnosis given to children who exhibit some symptoms of autism or other pervasive developmental disorder, but do not meet the specific diagnostic criteria for any one disorder in particular. Children with PDD-NOS generally have impaired social skills, problems with verbal and non-verbal communication, and engage in highly repetitive behaviors. In many cases, children initially given a diagnosis of PDD-NOS are later confirmed to have an identifiable disorder.


4. Childhood Disintegrative Disorder (CDD)
Also known as Heller’s syndrome or regressive autism, CDD occurs more frequently in boys but is also found among girls. Children with CDD appear to develop normally in most areas until 2 to 4 years of age. At that point, a marked regression occurs, which may take place over a period of weeks or months. Previously learned skills, such as toilet training, language and social abilities, are lost. The child may stop speaking, become disinterested in play, and develop other characteristics typical of autism.


5. Rett Syndrome
Thought to be a genetic disorder, Rett Syndrome is most commonly seen in females. The condition causes a steep developmental regression in children after 6 to 18 months of age. Until this time, many children appear to be developing normally, but then begin to undergo rapid behavioral changes, including loss of language, problems with balance, lack of interest in social relationships, sleep abnormalities and extended tantrums. In addition, the heads of children with Rett Syndrome fail to grow at a normal rate and most patients with the condition have mental retardation. Gradually they lose the purposeful use of their hands, which leads to repetitive "hand washing" movements, perhaps the most characteristic symptom of the disorder.

Autism spectrum disorders are part of a category of conditions recognized by the American

Psychiatric Association as pervasive developmental disorders.

1. Autism
A complex condition, autism is the most commonly diagnosed pervasive developmental disorder.

Autism impairs a person’s ability to communicate, both verbally and non-verbally, to form relationships

and to interact with others. It also typically results in a range of unusual and repetitive behaviors. A

child with autism may initially appear to develop normally, but then withdraw and lose interest in


Typically diagnosed by the time a child is age 3 or 4, autism can vary from mild to severe. Autism is

frequently accompanied by mental retardation, but not always. In many cases, patients will show

uneven levels of intelligence with highly developed talents in some areas.

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