What are the Autism Spectrum Conditions?

In the UK, the Autism Spectrum Conditions all fall under the umbrella of Pervasive Developmental Disorders, known as PDD’s.

The Autism Spectrum Conditions are Autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA) and Pervasive Development Disorder – not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS),

Rett’s Syndrome and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder are also Pervasive Developmental Disorders.

  • Autism  People with autism have problems with social interaction, pretend play, and communication. They also have a limited range of activities and interests.  They may also have underlying anxiety, sensory issues and resistance to change. There are currently considered to be some different types of Autism, such as Classic (Kanner’s) Autism and Regressive Autism, but not enough is known about these degrees of autism.

 

  • Asperger’s syndrome People with Asperger’s syndrome have difficulty with social interaction and communication. They may also have a narrow range of interests. However, children with Asperger’s have average or above average intelligence and develop normally in the areas of language and cognition (the mental processes related to thinking and learning). People with Asperger’s often have difficulty concentrating and may have poor coordination as well as anxiety, sensory issues and resistance to change.  Asperger’s is usually recognised later in a childhood, when children have enough language skills to show a limited focus and unusual patterns of speech.

 

  • Pathological Demand Avoidance (PDA).  People with pathological demand avoidance syndrome (PDA) will avoid demands made by others, due to their high anxiety levels when they feel that they are not in control. People with PDA tend to have much better social communication and interaction skills than other people on the spectrum, and can use this ability to their advantage. However, these areas still present genuine difficulties to people with PDA – usually because they need to control the interaction. They often have highly developed social mimicry and role play, sometimes becoming different characters or personas.

 

  • Pervasive development disorder, not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS).  PDD-NOS is a diagnosis that is used for “severe and pervasive impairment in the development of reciprocal social interaction or verbal and nonverbal communication skills, or when stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities are present, but the criteria are not met for a specific PDD“.  PDD-NOS is often called atypical autism, because the criteria for autistic spectrum conditions are not met. Even though PDD-NOS is considered milder than typical autism, this is not always true. While some characteristics may be milder, others may be more severe.

The Autism Spectrum Conditions combine a wide range of issues. The saying goes “If you’ve met one child with Autism, you’ve met one child with Autism”, meaning that every child on the spectrum is completely different from others on the spectrum.

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