What is Autism?
There are many different views.
There is a medical view.
There is a social view.
There is the lived experience.
Is it just a different way of Being?
We will start out with the lived experience of adults with Autism who have written books,
who have presented at conferences, who have travelled, who have trained, who are teachers, and who have learned to live with their Autism, who are the true experts and who have a myriad examples of what Autism can be or look like:
WATCH THIS SPACE – it will be updated regularly to give an inkling as to how wide and differing the perception of Autism, or the Autism ‘spectrum’ or ‘world’ is.
It will include paragraphs from books or blogs by Autistic people.
So far I have permission to share from our CoA member Stephen Shore, as well as Wenn Lawson, editor Craig Evans from the book Been There, Done That, Try This!,
A social perspective of Autism:
Autism, through a social lens
by Stephen Poulson
The creation of the “autism spectrum” has subsumed other types of diagnoses used in past, like
the more generic description “mental retardation.”
Autism raises broader questions about fundamental
assumptions of what’s different and what’s normal,
about what’s genius and what’s deviance.
To find out more about the medical perspective according to the DSM V (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders – Revision 5), or the ICD-10 (International Classification of Diseases – Revision 10) you can read below.:
DSM-V: Autism Spectrum Disorder:
Diagnostic Criteria 299.00 (F84.0)
A. Persistent deficits in social communication and social interaction across multiple contexts, as manifested by the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative,
not exhaustive; see text):
1. Deficits in social-emotional reciprocity, ranging, for example, from abnormal social
approach and failure of normal back-and-forth conversation; to reduced sharing of
interests, emotions, or affect; to failure to initiate or respond to social interactions.2. Deficits in nonverbal communicative behaviors used for social interaction, ranging,
for example, from poorly integrated verbal and nonverbal communication; to abnormalities in eye contact and body language or deficits in understanding and use of
gestures: to a total lack of facial expressions and nonverbal communication.
3. Deficits in developing, maintaining, and understanding relationships, ranging, for example, from difficulties adjusting behavior to suit various social contexts; to difficulties
in sharing imaginative play or in making friends; to absence of interest in peers.
Specify current severity:
Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior .
B. Restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior, interests, or activities, as manifested by at
least two of the following, currently or by history (examples are illustrative, not exhaustive; see text):
1. Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements, use of objects, or speech (e.g., simple
motor stereotypies, lining up toys or flipping objects, echolalia, idiosyncratic
2. Insistence on sameness, inflexible adherence to routines, or ritualized patterns of
verbal or nonverbal behavior (e.g., extreme distress at small changes, difficulties
with transitions, rigid thinking patterns, greeting rituals, need to take same route or
eat same food every day).
3. Highly restricted, fixated interests that are abnormal in intensity or focus (e.g.,
strong attachment to or preoccupation with unusual objects, excessively circumscribed or perseverative interests).
4. Hyper- or hyporeactivity to sensory input or unusual interest in sensory aspects of
the environment (e.g., apparent indifference to pain/temperature, adverse response to specific sounds or textures, excessive smelling or touching of objects,
visual fascination with lights or movement).
Specify current severity:
Severity is based on social communication impairments and restricted, repetitive patterns of behavior (see Table 2).
C. Symptoms must be present in the early developmental period (but may not become
fully manifest until social demands exceed limited capacities, or may be masked by
learned strategies in later life).
D. Symptoms cause clinically significant impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of current functioning.
E. These disturbances are not better explained by intellectual disability (intellectual developmental disorder) or global developmental delay. Intellectual disability and autism
spectrum disorder frequently co-occur; to make comorbid diagnoses of autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability, social communication should be below that expected for general developmental level.
Note: Individuals with a well-established DSM-IV diagnosis of autistic disorder, Asperger’s
disorder, or pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified should be given the
diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder. Individuals who have marked deficits in social
communication, but whose symptoms do not othenwise meet criteria for autism spectrum
disorder, should be evaluated for social (pragmatic) communication disorder.
With or without accompanying inteliectual impairment
With or without accompanying language impairment
Associated with a icnown medicai or genetic condition or environmental factor
(Coding note: Use additional code to identify the associated medical or genetic condition.)
Associated with another neurodevelopmental, mental, or behavioral disorder
(Coding note: Use additional code[s] to identify the associated neurodevelopmental,
mental, or behavioral disorder[s].)
With catatonia (refer to the criteria for catatonia associated with another mental disorder, pp. 119-120, for definition) (Coding note: Use additional code 293.89 [F06.1]
catatonia associated with autism spectrum disorder to indicate the presence of the comorbid catatonia.)
( You can access the full document here: https://cdn.website-editor.net/30f11123991548a0af708722d458e476/files/uploaded/DSM%2520V.pdf )
ICD-10: Childhood Autism:
Diagnostic Criteria F84.0 299.00 (299.00)
A. Abnormal or impaired development is evident before the age of 3 years in at least one of the following areas:
- receptive or expressive language as used in social communication;
- the development of selective social attachments or of reciprocal social interaction;
- functional or symbolic play.
B. A total of at least six symptoms from (1), (2) and (3) must be present, with at least two from (1) and at least one from each of (2) and (3)
- 1. Qualitative impairment in social interaction are manifest in at least two of the following areas:
- a. failure adequately to use eye-to-eye gaze, facial expression, body postures, and gestures to regulate social interaction;
- b. failure to develop (in a manner appropriate to mental age, and despite ample opportunities) peer relationships that involve a mutual sharing of interests, activities and emotions;
- c. lack of socio-emotional reciprocity as shown by an impaired or deviant response to other people’s emotions; or lack of modulation of behavior according to social context; or a weak integration of social, emotional, and communicative behaviors;
- d. lack of spontaneous seeking to share enjoyment, interests, or achievements with other people (e.g. a lack of showing, bringing, or pointing out to other people objects of interest to the individual).
2. Qualitative abnormalities in communication as manifest in at least one of the following areas:
- a. delay in or total lack of, development of spoken language that is not accompanied by an attempt to compensate through the use of gestures or mime as an alternative mode of communication (often preceded by a lack of communicative babbling);
- b. relative failure to initiate or sustain conversational interchange (at whatever level of language skill is present), in which there is reciprocal responsiveness to the communications of the other person;
- c. stereotyped and repetitive use of language or idiosyncratic use of words or phrases;
- d. lack of varied spontaneous make-believe play or (when young) social imitative play
3. Restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities are manifested in at least one of the following:
- a. An encompassing preoccupation with one or more stereotyped and restricted patterns of interest that are abnormal in content or focus; or one or more interests that are abnormal in their intensity and circumscribed nature though not in their content or focus;
- b. Apparently compulsive adherence to specific, nonfunctional routines or rituals;
- c. Stereotyped and repetitive motor mannerisms that involve either hand or finger flapping or twisting or complex whole body movements;
- d. Preoccupations with part-objects of non-functional elements of play materials (such as their oder, the feel of their surface, or the noise or vibration they generate).
C. The clinical picture is not attributable to the other varieties of pervasive developmental disorders; specific development disorder of receptive language (F80.2) with secondary socio-emotional problems, reactive attachment disorder (F94.1) or disinhibited attachment disorder (F94.2); mental retardation (F70-F72) with some associated emotional or behavioral disorders; schizophrenia (F20.-) of unusually early onset; and Rett’s Syndrome (F84.12).
(Accessed on 08 August 2020: https://iancommunity.org/cs/autism/icd10_criteria_for_autism )