Monday, January 30, 2012

Behaviors and the Autism Checklist, For Now

True or False? All people who have behaviors of stimming (i.e. hand flapping), echoing, spinning and perseveration (i.e. lining up objects, subject fascination) are in the autism spectrum. The answer is false. These characteristics are byproducts of autism. In fact, a child or adult displaying one or more of these issues may indicate that the individual has sensory processing challenges or gross motor issues, not autism.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, a diagnosis of autistic disorder is made when an individual displays 6 or more of 12 symptoms in three major areas of social interaction, communication and behavior. The checklist is from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSMIV). If a child displays some but not all of the criteria, he may receive a PDD-NOS diagnosis which is a diagnosis within the autism spectrum, too. Delays or abnormal functioning in social interaction, language as used in social communication and symbolic or imaginative play should occur in at least one of these areas prior to age 3. The autism definition in the upcoming Fifth Edition of the DSM is being revised and will be changing. In the meantime, the current 12-symptom checklist is as follows:

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